Roosters backline call looms as club coy on Keary

Scott Bailey |

Luke Keary copped a head knock as his Sydney Roosters team lost to Manly.
Luke Keary copped a head knock as his Sydney Roosters team lost to Manly.

Trent Robinson faces crucial decisions on the make up of his Sydney Roosters backline with Billy Smith set to be fit to face arch-rivals South Sydney on Friday.

The Roosters had another scare in Sunday’s 21-14 NRL loss to Manly, with Luke Keary suffering a head knock late in the defeat at Brookvale.

Keary left the field after his head collided with Tom Trbojevic’s knee while chasing through on a kick, and he remained on the turf after the contact.

The Roosters five-eighth was ordered off the field for a check, but the timing meant it was completed after fulltime and club officials were coy on its outcome.

“I haven’t got to him individually yet, but he was in there in a fairly good way there,” coach Trent Robinson said. 

If Keary was to fail the test, or be diagnosed with delayed concussion during the week, he would automatically be ruled out of the Roosters’ clash with the Rabbitohs.

Keary has had a difficult history with concussions but had a clear run for the past year before Sunday’s head knock.

If he was to miss the grudge match with Souths, it is likely Sandon Smith would wear No.6 for the Roosters.

Another option could be Joey Manu.

Billy Smith missed the opening two rounds of the season with a hamstring injury, but Robinson said on Sunday he expected the centre to be available to face Souths.

A year-long squeeze looms in the Roosters backline, with Daniel Tupou, Manu, Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii, Dom Young and Smith all fighting for four spots.

Robinson has previously indicated he will rotate roles early in the season, and Manu’s history of playing at No.6 could provide an easy solution this week.

The Roosters could also look for answers from the NRL on a controversial Manly try early in Sunday’s game.

After Tom Trbojevic chased through on a Luke Brooks bomb, the Manly fullback appeared to take out James Tedesco as he went to catch the ball.

The bunker cleared the play, allowing Lachlan Croker to be awarded the first try of the match after he scooped up the loose ball.

“It was pretty clear that that wasn’t (a try),” Robinson said. 

“They sent so many clips on that, obviously it was a no try. It’s pretty simple. 

“I don’t think we would have won the game on the back of that, but it was pretty simple. 

“That’s been the rule that they’ve sent out and they’ve been really clear on that and penalised it. So that was a strange one.”

Manly questioned a no-try call for Haumole Olakau’atu, with coach Anthony Seibold unconvinced the second-rower fumbled the ball on the way to the line.