Gorden Tallis
Gorden Tallis

Tallis: The Roosters can be bashed

Mike Tyson once said, "everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth".

And on Thursday night, Sam Burgess and the Rabbitohs put one right on the chin of the Roosters to expose a chink in the Chooks' armour.

I know the reigning premiers were not at full strength and they couldn't move from second spot on the ladder with a win but Souths did the rest of the teams in the finals a favour by attacking the underbelly of the Roosters.

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Sam Burgess and the Bunnies physically dominated the Roosters in the second half on Thursday night
Sam Burgess and the Bunnies physically dominated the Roosters in the second half on Thursday night

For all their undoubted skill, I wonder if the Roosters have the steel upfront to go back-to-back.

Their captain Boyd Cordner - who I really rate - is underdone and will struggle to get back to peak fitness after overcoming injuries while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves could be sitting out the first week of the finals.

If their forward leaders aren't fit and firing, they are very beatable.

They had the Bunnies on the ropes until Souths dragged the game into the trenches and made it a knock-em-down, drag-em-out, old fashioned sort of contest.

They bashed them. Plain and simple.

You can have all the gameplans and structures in place that you want but if the other mob is tackling and running harder than you, it doesn't mean that much.

The Bunnies hunted as a pack and delivered a blueprint that the likes of Melbourne, Canberra and others will look to follow.

Rooster Drew Hutchison is crucnched by the Rabbitohs defence
Rooster Drew Hutchison is crucnched by the Rabbitohs defence

It's one thing to say that the key to beating the Roosters is getting them in the trenches but you still have to be good enough to do it and keep doing it.

The Storm normally suffocate teams but they have the pack to bash-up the Roosters. So do Canberra and so do the Rabbitohs. Souths have done it twice now if you include what happened in Round 1.

That's one of the challenges of going back-to-back. There's a reason why the last team to do it was the Brisbane Broncos in 1997-98. It's hard to do.

 

Gorden Tallis after the Broncos win the 1998 NRL grand final to follow their 1997 Super League title.
Gorden Tallis after the Broncos win the 1998 NRL grand final to follow their 1997 Super League title.

As premiers, you are the benchmark.

So 15 other teams spend an entire off-season working out how to beat you.

They look at how to defend your best attacking plays, they look at how to breakdown your defensive structures. They try to pick your game apart.

There's a giant target on your back every single week and remaining at the physical and mental levels required to win it all again can be very tough. Too tough for most.

It all catches up with you eventually and the teams that are good enough will show no mercy.

They will kick down the front door if you let them.

Souths did just that on Thursday so it's time for the Roosters to pull a rabbit out of their hat.