Roosters embrace favourites tag ahead of NRL qualifier

SYDNEY say they won’t be weighed down by their premiership favourites tag ahead of tonight’s qualifying final against Melbourne at Allianz Stadium.

Instead the foundation club has embraced the weight of expectation as they chase their second NRL crown in three seasons.

Coach Trent Robinson accepts that some sides struggle with the hopes that came with being nominated as favourites.


But the 2013 premiership-winning coach believes his side has shown they can handle the pressure.

In another boost for the Rooster, star halfback Mitchell Pearce is a chance of making an early return from a hamstring injury tonight.

Pearce was initially set for up to six weeks on the sidelines after suffering the injury three weeks ago in the Roosters’ win over Brisbane.

But, Robinson revealed on Thursday the NSW playmaker could make a shock return against the Storm in week one of the finals.

However, confirmation on whether he will play is unlikely to come until one hour before the 7.55pm kickoff when teams are required to be named.

Jackson Hastings has filled in at halfback in Pearce’s absence and Robinson has indicated the young playmaker will remain in the side on the interchange bench if Pearce is fit.

One player who will certainly take to Allianz Stadium for the right to have next week off is Storm captain Cameron Smith.

The Queensland and Australian hooker, battling illness in the lead-up to this weekend, was a notable no-show on Monday at the launch of the finals series at the SCG.

However Smith did travel with the Storm on Thursday to Sydney.