Luke Keary plays on with blood on his nose.
Luke Keary plays on with blood on his nose.

‘Impressive’ Roosters playmaker named to cover Keary

LUKE Keary wants to start the season for the Roosters.

He declared as much earlier in the week but he still hasn't returned to full contact training and the Roosters are planning accordingly.

His captain is less optimistic of a first round start.

While hopeful, Jake Friend revealed the Roosters have a 'Plan B' in place if Keary is unable to take the field.

Enter Mitch Cornish.

He's the 25-year-old utility with 19 top flight games to his name.

Daly Cherry-Evans is tackled by Mitch Cornish.
Daly Cherry-Evans is tackled by Mitch Cornish.

Cornish played four games last season, starting in three but it's been the two pre-season games this year which has his teammates confident he can fill the void.

"He'll be the No.1 pick if Luke isn't there," Friend told Fox Sports.

"He was impressive in the trials. I thought he kicked really well.

"He's really calm and a good decision maker. He'll slot in there fine. He's been training there all season in there with Luke and (halfback Cooper) Cooper so we won't lose much if he's there."

Keary broke his jaw in a pre-season mishap which left the 26-year-old needing surgery.

A metal plate was inserted into his face but ongoing concussion-like symptoms has limited his involvement with the team.

Cooper Cronk of the Roosters talks to the team.
Cooper Cronk of the Roosters talks to the team.

The four-week lay-off has hampered his preparations for the upcoming season which officially gets underway next week.

With essentially a new spine following the arrival of James Tedesco and Cronk, time on the field to develop combinations is crucial.

But Keary's health trumps football.

Player safety is the priority which is why the Roosters' medical staff aren't taking any chances.

"It's taking a little bit longer to come back from that," Friend said.

"It's taken a little bit longer to come back from that.

"He's been in and around training for the last few days and he looks really good.

Luke Keary makes a break.
Luke Keary makes a break.

"He looks better and hopefully he'll get back into full training next week and hopefully he be running out with us on Saturday night."

The Roosters kick-off their season against the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on March 10.

While a decision on Keary isn't likely to come until late next week, Friend admits with injuries of this nature, it's better to err on the side of caution, especially when it's a long season.

"That would be ideal," Friend said of Keary's return.

"But head injuries, broken bones obviously - can't really push him. When he feels right he'll play but he's doing everything he can to push for round one."