Roosters lose SBW for finals showdown with minor premiers Penrith

Superstar recruit Sonny Bill Williams will miss the Sydney Roosters’ qualifying final against Penrith on Friday night because of injury.

The Roosters say the dual international has been ruled out after the flare-up of a neck injury. Nat Butcher takes Williams’ place on the interchange bench.

Coach Trent Robinson says every one of his Roosters players called him after the Souths shellacking last week.Credit:Getty

If Penrith have plenty of youthful enthusiasm, the Roosters have a mountain of big-game experience, including skipper Boyd Cordner, James Tedesco and Sonny Bill Williams who have spent years on the biggest stage.

"We've had guys plays lots of finals series, but tomorrow night we need to lay it on the line and go out and play the style of footy we want to play, not rely on anything in the past,'' Robinson said.

Freddy Lussick has been named to start in the No. 9 for the concussed Jake Friend, but Robinson stopped short of declaring the blond rookie would start the game at dummy-half.

Robinson also preferred not to rap Penrith superstar No. 7 Nathan Cleary and was happy for the commentators to do so. The coach had been impressed with the development of his own halfback and five-eighth – Kyle Flanagan and Luke Keary – who only had their first game together at Panthers Stadium in round one.

"Our job is to defensively work over the opposition to nullify their strengths. We'll do that," Robinson said.

"The commentary on individuals [like Cleary] is up to you guys [the media].

"I feel like [Flanagan and Keary] have developed really well.

"It's been an extended season with a pause and that development and relationship has continued to grow.

"They talk often, even away from field there's a lot of discussions at all times about the way they want to play. That adds depth to their relationship on and off the field.

"It's a long way from round one to semi-final one, but there's been a lot of development, which has been good.''

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