‘There’s no risk – there’s only reward’: Robbo holds no fear of discipline as Roosters look to attack Rabbitohs from the off

Trent Robinson is set to push all his chips into the middle for Friday night’s blockbuster clash with South Sydney, imploring his side to attack the do-or-die derby from the off.

The Roosters coach cut a relaxed figure ahead of the biggest derby since the eternal rivals met with the minor premiership on the line in 2013, safe in the knowledge that his team had been playing knockout football for a month heading into the meeting at Accor Stadium.

He held no fear of a repeat of last year’s knockout meeting, which saw seven sin bins – even though his side have already lost pack leader Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to suspension following his brain explosion against the Wests Tigers last weekend. The Roosters will also miss Joey Manu, who failed to recover from his hamstring injury in time.

“There’s no risk,” said Robinson. “There’s only reward. That’s all there is this week.

“That’s the belief in what we can do tomorrow night, belief in what’s coming. It’s all upside. There’s no holding back as far as you want to play. The reward is sitting right there.

“These are the games that you really want to be involved in. We’ve had that week in, week out for the last few weeks. 

“Four weeks ago we knew that if we didn’t get the game done, it was over. There’s an excitement and purity to these games and we want to attack that.

“They (derby games) arer all big. They’re always big. The context behind it makes it really exciting, winner-takes-all all and it’s us on the last day of the regular season. It’s a big one.

“For us, that’s why we enjoy it. There’s been a lot of discussion around it, but we could be playing Camden Rams this week for a spot in the finals, it wouldn’t make any difference as far as opposition. 

“The prize has been pretty clear for us for a month – we just need to keep winning whoever was in front of us. We need to play our best footy, keep improving and win games. 

“There’s no difference tomorrow night, it just happens to be a great story and rivalry. But a lot of that is external, we’ve been really clear about how we need to play.”

Robinson admitted that he was disappointed in Waerea-Hargreaves following his ban, the result of 60 seconds of madness in which he caught Api Koroisau late, then head-butted Stefano Utoikamanu.

“I’m disappointed in what happened and the result on Tuesday night doubled down on that,” he said.

“It’s a disappointing way for him to finish the season and the impact on our club hasn’t been great. 

“Yeah, I am (angry). It’s only natural to be that way. It doesn’t chance the way that I think about him or the care that I have for him, but of course, you’re angry because you represent the club and we’re all fighting for something. For him not to be there to be a part of that is disappointing.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 11: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves of the Roosters reacts after been sent to the sin bin by referee Ashley Klein during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“It’s disappointing with Jared, but the mindset’s been really calm and focused this week. Games will take whatever course they take, but I know the focus that our players have for what we need to do each week. 

“The opposition is known to us, over 115 years, but the mindset we’ve got is very much how we need to play. There’ll be a lot of tension in the stadium but we need to play good footy.

The history is history. The reward is very clear tomorrow night and it doesn’t matter who we’re going to play, we want that reward. To do that, we have to be play great footy.”

As for the opposition, Robinson showed solidarity with Bunnies boss Jason Demetriou, who has been at the centre of the infighting drama at South Sydney.

Assistant Sam Burgess left the club last week amid accusations that star players Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker wielded too much power. Robinson said that the drama would not affect his preparations, though he felt for Demetriou.

“I don’t care. It has no effect,” he said. “You should go to the Souths press conference and ask them. For us here, it doesn’t matter. Whatever someone takes into the game, we’ve got to play 80 minutes and be clear about how we want to play.

“I have some empathy for what’s happened, especially for the coach. I don’t know their coach very well at all, I’ve said hello to him a couple of times, but from a head coaching point of view, it hasn’t looked how he wanted and I have empathy for that, but after that, it’s game on.

“You love your players, and he obviously does, then that gets questioned, it’s tough.”

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