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Horror 2016 helps Roosters through Origin

NZN 24/05/2017 Scott Bailey

Last year's wretched start to the NRL season could prove a blessing in disguise for the Sydney Roosters during this year's State of Origin period, according to captain Jake Friend.

The Roosters are the second-most impacted team in the competition as far as player losses to Origin go this year, and face the prospect of playing two matches without five representative stars.

The first of those is on Sunday in Canberra, against a Raiders side that has only lost Josh Papalii to Queensland selection.

But the Roosters do have some extra assistance, being able to call upon a number of players in key positions who made their debuts during last year's horror start to the season.

"It will definitely help us," Friend said.

"Those guys got a bit of a taste of the NRL and now they know what it's about for Sunday."

The Roosters are fourth headed into this year's Origin period, and are desperate not to lose the momentum built from wins in four of their past five games.

And to do that, Friend hopes a number of the team can rely on their experience from last year.

A litany of injuries and Mitchell Pearce's eight-week suspension saw the Roosters use the equal-third most players - at 31 - of all teams last year as they finished 15th on the ladder.

However, the dramas saw a number of young players debut - including Connor Watson who will return to five-eighth for the first time this season on Sunday, in the absence of Pearce.

Ryan Matterson will also take on a starting role for the first time since last year, while Joseph Manu and Latrell Mitchell have blossomed into regular first graders since last season's debut in the back.

Regular bench players such as Kane Evans were also given more senior roles as starters, and he will return to the top 13 on Sunday for the first time since last season.

"For myself and a few of the older boys, it is on us to perform in this period," Friend said.

"It's tough for the boys coming back in and out.

"But if the other senior guys can do a job in this time it will do wonders for our season and where we want to be."

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