James Tedesco and the Roosters want to maintain their momentum into the finals.
James Tedesco and the Roosters want to maintain their momentum into the finals.

‘Madness’ to rest Tedesco now

RESTING Sydney Roosters superstar James Tedesco from Thursday night's blockbuster against arch rivals South Sydney would be madness, according to club legend Anthony Minichiello.

The two-time premiership winner believes leaving the NSW Blues fullback out on the eve of the finals series only risks halting Tedesco's match-winning form.

"He'll want to be out there. He's in fine form so why would you rest him? He's just in outstanding form. I think resting players a week out from the semis … I don't know if that's the right call or not. When you go into the finals you want to have timing and games under your belt," Minichiello said.

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While the superstar fullback was named in coach Trent Robinson's side on Tuesday afternoon there is speculation he could be given the week off to ensure he is primed for the finals series.

Robinson has a capable replacement in centre Joseph Manu and young gun Billy Smith - who was named as 18th man - can slot into Manu's spot on the right edge.

"When you see him [Manu] get involved you think 'geez, this kid has so much skill as well'. If we can get him involved in the game and get him some ball he can do some special things as well," Minichiello said.

Minichiello also said the defending premiers will want to field the best possible 17 given the fact their season has already been punctuated by injury and representative football.

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Five-eighth Luke Keary and forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Boyd Cordner and Sio Siua Taukeiaho have all missed games through injury at different stages this year. Hooker Jake Friend is still out with an arm injury but was scheduled to make his long-awaited term in time for finals footy in September.

Minichiello believes Thursday night's blockbuster clash is a chance for Robinson to fine tune combinations.

"Cooper Cronk missed last week, Latrell Mitchell has missed a game, we've had Boyd Cordner out. We've had players missing with injury through the last couple of months of footy. I'm in the four walls anymore so I'm not too sure what he'll do but I don't think he'll rest players. After Origin they all got a rest in some way or another with days off and a chance to recuperate," Minichiello said.

"Robbo [Robinson] knows what he's doing with the timing of players and the timing of the team. Last year he got bang on and hopefully this year will be the same."

Cooper Cronk (right) missed the Roosters’ win over Penrith last weekend. Picture: Getty
Cooper Cronk (right) missed the Roosters’ win over Penrith last weekend. Picture: Getty

Wayne Bennett's Rabbitohs got the better of a full-strength Roosters 26-16 outfit back in round one.

But Minichiello is confident Robinson has devised a game plan to avenge that loss on Thursday night at ANZ Stadium.

"Adam Reynolds' kicking game will be a big threat, our back five really have to be at their best and aware of his kicking game," he said.

"But the huge match-up in the forwards might decide the game.

"Obviously if the Rabbitohs forwards get the upper hand then Cameron Murray, who has the quickest play the ball in the game, allows Damien Cook to can get those damaging runs on the back of his work."