By DAN WALSH
SYDNEY Roosters coach Brian Smith says it’s far too early to start planning for next year but many of the tricolours’ supporters already have after they booed their team off at fulltime in the dismal Monday Night Football loss to Canberra.
Pressure continues to build on Smith, whose side has now lost nine of their past 11 matches and sit above last-placed Gold Coast only on for and against.
“We’re way too far out from the end of the season [to begin planning for next year],” Smith said after his side again failed to score more than 12 points – a feat they have not accomplished since round four.
“At times you can blood young blokes for the following season, but believe me we’re not blooding anybody at the moment – we had 18 fit players this weekend.”
Smith has a simple answer for critics of a team that has sunk alarmingly since its 2009 grand final appearance: “It’s just too much to ask of six or seven of guys in the team who at this stage of their careers are not capable of playing 80 minutes together, and then our experienced guys are playing at putting humpty dumpty together again.”
He said those who did not acknowledge the problem were “not having a go” – but eight of the starting team against the Raiders were involved in the grand final.
The Roosters desperately missed their star Origin trio of Anthony Minichello, Mitchell Pearce and Nate Myles, as well as a number of regular first graders as the Raiders ran in seven tries to two in front of 9817 disappointed fans.
The night couldn’t have begun any worse for captain Braith Anasta, who sent the first kick off sailing over the deadball line, and with it any real hope the Roosters had in the match.
At times the Roosters’ attack seemed a comedy of errors as passes missed their mark, attacking plays slowed to a walk and the side looked bereft of any confidence whatsoever.
“You’ve got to earn you’re confidence and build it from your results, and obviously we’re not quite there yet”, said Anasta.
“Everyone tried their guts out the whole game, but we just got off on the wrong foot.”
Adding to the Roosters woes is Raiders coach David Furner’s complaint of niggling tactics by the Bondi club that he plans to take up with referees bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper.
“One team I thought came to play footy and one team came to spoil a bit, but I was proud of how my players reacted,'” said Furner.
For the Raiders, five eighth Josh McCrone was impressive, having a hand in three tries down the Raiders’ right side, while centre Jarrod Croker collected 18 points from two tries and five conversions.
However the win was soured by news that representative forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs could be out for the season with a torn bicep tendon suffered in the final minutes.
CANBERRA 38 (J Croker 2 S Fensom J Papalli J Picker B Ferguson J Thompson tries J Croker 5 goals) bt SYDNEY ROOSTERS 12: (T Carney SPerrett tries T Carney 2 goals) at Sydney Football Stadium. Referees: M Cecchin/H Perenara Crowd: 9817.
Final team lists:
ROOSTERS: Mark Khierllah; Sam Perrett, Kane Linnett, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, BJ Leilua; Braith Anasta, Todd Carney; Aiden Guerra, Brad Takairangi, Tom Symond, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Jason Ryles. Res: Anthony Mitchell, Mose Masoe, Tinirau Arona, Jonathan Ford.
CANBERRA: Nathan Massey; Blake Ferguson, Jarrod Croker, Joel Thompson, Reece Robinson; Josh McCrone, Sam Williams; Shaun Fensom, Josh Papalii, Joe Picker, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Alan Tongue (c), Brett White. Res: Glen Buttris, Bronson Harrison, Dane Tilse, Trevor Thurling.
Toyota Cup fulltime:Sydney Roosters 56 Canberra 20.