Sydney Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello admits Newcastle’s momentum is a major concern for the competition favourites heading into Saturday night’s preliminary final at Allianz Stadium.
The Knights have emerged as the finals giant-killers, having taken out both of last year’s grand finalists in the opening two weeks – and they have their sights set on the big scalp of the Roosters.
‘‘It [momentum] is a big factor because they’re playing with a bit of confidence going into the final,’’ Minichiello said.
‘‘They’ve won a lot of games now and we’re coming off a break.
‘‘We watched the game [the Knights’ win over Melbourne] and Newcastle deserved to win.
‘‘They played just that little bit better on the night.’’
Asked for the secret to the Knights’ late-season surge, Minichiello said: ‘‘They’re very well coached – you know what Wayne Bennett’s like as a coach.
‘‘I’ve experienced his coaching. He is a great coach, one of the best of all time.
‘‘They’re hitting their straps at the right time. We have to make sure that we’re prepared well for Saturday night.’’
The week off has given the Roosters a chance to freshen up and boosted their forward stocks.
Minichiello rates NSW Origin back-rower Boyd Cordner a decent chance of returning from ankle surgery for the clash.
Cordner has not played since round 25.
At the time he was considered an outside chance of returning for the grand final if the Roosters went that far.
But his rehabilitation went better than expected, and Minichiello says he would not be surprised if the young forward is back on deck on Saturday night.
‘‘He’s looking OK,’’ said Minichiello.
‘‘I haven’t spoken to him in detail. I think he’s had a run and he seems OK.
‘‘It’ll be a boost if he can come back.’’ - AAP