Rebuilding Roosters to be tested

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has plenty to think about. Photo: AAP Images.
Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has plenty to think about. Photo: AAP Images.

Tomorrow morning's World Club Challenge clash with St Helens will be crucial to how Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson selects his side for the club's NRL season-opener against South Sydney.

Robinson, who has taken the club to one premiership and three minor premierships in the past three years, has some big calls to make after losing a host of key players.

Experienced five-eighth James Maloney has switched to Cronulla, while halfback Mitchell Pearce, who is seeking treatment for alcohol-related issues, and forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (knee) and Boyd Cordner (pectoral muscle tear) are sidelined indefinitely.

Robinson has also lost dynamic fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to the Warriors, which means a positional shift for Blake Ferguson.

Former Broncos NYC star Jayden Nikorima will get an opportunity to impress the coach when he lines up with Jackson Hastings as a new halves pairing.

Hastings showed some outstanding form filling in for Pearce at times last year, but Nikorima is very inexperienced and will be targeted in the slower English conditions.

Mitch Aubusson is favourite to fill in for Cordner, while big Queenslander Dylan Napa may have to take some of the front-row work and provide some of the intimidation and fear injected by Waerea- Hargreaves.

Robinson could also use the game at Langtree Park to take another look at boom teenager Latrell Mitchell, who has already drawn comparisons to a young Greg Inglis.

Rugby league journeyman Travis Burns, who had NRL stints with Manly, North Queensland and Penrith before playing last season with Hull KR, ex-Gold Coast and Warriors utility Dominique Peyroux, and former Roosters and Broncos forward Lama Tasi will line up for St Helens.