Mitchell Pearce’s off-field dramas will only make the Sydney Roosters tougher to beat in the opinion of North Queensland’s Matt Scott.
Pearce will serve a one-game club suspension and miss Saturday’s NRL clash against the Cowboys in Townsville.
The NSW halfback was dumped after being arrested during a boozy night out in Sydney’s Kings Cross last weekend, with the Roosters having to deal with intense media scrutiny throughout the week.
But Scott thinks that will galvanise rather than distract the NRL premiers.
“They might miss him a bit in the halves but it tends to bring a side together,” Scott said.
“They’ll be looking to hit back pretty strongly and put that behind them.”
Pearce’s absence means James Maloney will move to No.7 for the Roosters with Sonny Bill Williams shifting to five-eighth.
The New Zealand international will be directly lined up against Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston in what will be the Queensland and Australia representative’s 200th game for the club.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes moving Williams into the backline won’t dilute his impact on the game.
“Obviously it’s different with Jimmy and Sonny at five-eighth, that is exciting in itself seeing him playing in a different position,” Robinson said.
While the superstar No.6s may catch the eye it is the battle of the big-boppers which could prove vital.
Scott and Kangaroos teammate James Tamou will line-up against Roosters bookends Sam Moa and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in a potentially explosive clash.
The Queensland prop said it was a battle he and Tamou were looking forward to.
“They’re two of the best front-rowers in the comp at the moment,” Scott said.
“Last year the momentum was generated from their front-row and those two were a big part of it. They’re both test front-rowers … it’s a big job for Jimmy and myself.”
The Roosters will also have to deal with insider knowledge due to Cowboys’ coach Paul Green having been the Roosters’ under-20 coach last season.
“Paul being the coach knows how we play,” Robinson said.
“It’s going to be tough going up there, they are in good form.”