Trent Robinson will cast friendship aside as his Sydney Roosters go on a season-defining five-game winning streak that could very well decide the ultimate fate of the struggling heavyweights’ NRL.
The Roosters take on Cronulla at PointsBet Stadium on Saturday night in a pivotal matchup that also marks Robinson’s first head-to-head matchup with former assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
All business, Robinson is downplaying the coaching matchup.
“This is not personal,” he said Friday.
“It’s a football game. He’s one of my best teammates and that’s not going to change wherever he is.
“We have a game and we want to play well and it’s against the Sharks. You have to separate the personal part from the professional part.”
It’s no wonder Robinson doesn’t have the time or energy to indulge in any subplots as the Roosters struggle to keep their title hopes alive.
Languishing in seventh place, the Roosters play top four teams plus Canberra in the national capital over the next five weeks.
It’s a brutal streak, especially given that they will likely be without groundbreaking fullback and captain James Tedesco during the State of Origin series.
After losses to Canterbury, Newcastle and St George Illawarra, the Roosters find themselves in need of at least a couple of wins over the Sharks, Penrith, Melbourne, Parramatta and Canberra to stay in the top eight.
Robinson, however, refuses to look beyond the Sharks, at least publicly while maintaining a positive front.
“We have Cronulla tomorrow night. That’s what we have. We know where we are. We know what kind of team we want to be,” he said.
“So we know who we are and how we want to play. There are some areas that we’ve identified that we want to keep pushing forward.”
“I’m really liking some of the plays, the way we’re playing the game, and we need to add some finishing touches tomorrow night.”
If they don’t, the Roosters, a preseason favorite, will find themselves four points shy of the top four in their grueling run to come.
“The Sharks played good football. I feel like they’ve progressed well,” Robinson said.
“(But) they have offered opportunities at different stages. We want to be at our best tomorrow night and take that on.”
The Sharks welcome Will Kennedy back from suspension, and the fullback is eager to meet Tedesco in another intriguing one-on-one battle.
“He’s a strong player and I respect him as a player and I’ve learned a lot from him as well,” Kennedy said.
“It’s a big test for me this weekend.”