The Sydney Roosters have slapped an alcohol ban on themselves to ensure their premiership defence gets back on track.
It has been revealed the players made a pact to stay off the booze at an honesty session following their 42-10 loss to North Queensland last month. The playing and coaching staff held a meeting the day after the defeat in Townsville to address the performance, arguably the worst since Trent Robinson took over as coach last year.
With the team sitting outside the top eight and still reeling from the fallout of Mitchell Pearce and Boyd Cordner’s big night out, the coaches were looking for answers. A number of issues were addressed, with captain Anthony Minichiello understood to be one of the more vocal players as the club dissected a disappointing start to the season.
The result was an indefinite booze ban, which is likely to remain until the end of the season.
“It was just a conventional debrief meeting the next day after a heavy loss against North Queensland,” Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan said.
“It was a heavy loss, we were poor. Not only does the consumption of alcohol and other issues drain energy from individuals but from the club – and the team performance drops.
“If you drop 1 per cent it can convert into 10 points. If you’re talking about a 2 or 3 per cent drop, you get 30 or 40 points put on you.
“The players realised we needed to do something a bit different to get a performance.
“The conversation went along those lines, looking at the one-percenters. And [banning alcohol] was one of them and probably the first one.”
It’s not the first time the Roosters have swapped lagers for lattes. The tricolours swore off the grog during the final eight rounds of the regular season of last year. After noticing the improvements in performance, they continued to abstain until their campaign ended, resulting in an epic grand final triumph against Manly.
Pearce had already vowed not to imbibe again in-season after he was involved in an incident with a female patron at the Beach Haus nightclub in Kings Cross, which led to his arrest and an infringement notice for failing to leave a licensed premises.
The halfback, who had already been marched from the Clovelly Hotel that evening, was fined $20,000 and handed a one-match ban, which was served during that fateful loss to the Cowboys. The punishment could end up being even heftier, with Pearce set to miss out on the $90,000 Origin match payments he would have been entitled to had he played all three games of the series. Cordner was fined $5000 for his role in the evening.
The boozy incident, and the response to it, may now be a positive for the tricolours. The club is likely to retain halves pairing Pearce and James Maloney throughout the Origin period after being resigned to coping without them. And the turnaround following the Cowboys post-mortem has been emphatic, if convincing wins against Canterbury and Canberra are any guide.
“That poor performance that evening made us click into another mindset,” Canavan said.
“There was an inquiry as to why we served up a 40-point loss to the Cowboys. They were good, but we were very poor. The conversation went from there, continued on into next week, and away we went.”