Stats amazing: Why slow starters have real shot at top four

Every Roosters fan knows the iconic Scott Sattler image. All of them hate it, too.

An entire franchise forever scarred by those brief few seconds where the Penrith backrower crossed ANZ Stadium turf, downed Tricolours winger Todd Byrne and effectively decided the 2003 NRL premiership.

But guess what?

"That year, we started with consecutive losses too," Sattler recounted this week. "Yet after 20 rounds, you'll have to check, but I'm pretty sure we were inside the top four."

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So check, we did - and found the Panthers in first.

Which is why 17 years after completely destroying that '03 Roosters premiership dream, Sattler has suddenly emerged as motivation for the same Bondi Junction club winning a third straight title.

Initially, this appeared no easy thing in 2020.

Especially after the Chooks went winless over the opening fortnight of the season, sitting 12th when the NRL was shut down.

But with ARLC chairman Peter V'landys having this week declared the competition will now run 20 weeks - not 15 as initially pitched - a Roosters threepeat is suddenly looking very doable.

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According to the Fox Sports Laboratory, 88 teams in the NRL era have opened their season 0-2.

Of those, 32 have pushed inside the top eight after 20 rounds, while another eight were top four.

Better, three sides from that latter group also went on to win the whole thing - the 2003 Panthers, 2008 Manly Sea Eagles and 2015 North Queensland Cowboys.

"So the statistics prove the Roosters can still win it," Sattler said.

But as for the secret?

"You have to go on a run," the Panthers hero continued. "You need enough talent in your side to string together eight, nine wins in a row. And the Roosters have that.

"Have done it previously, too. So there's no arguing the fact they can win this year.

"This is side that has shown it can go on long stretches without loss. And that comes down to their system, their coach and importantly, their players."



The Roosters can take some motivation from history. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images
The Roosters can take some motivation from history. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images


Asked why his own side started so slowly in 2003, Sattler says: "You know what? I've got no answer.

"We just started out really mediocre.

"I know in Round 3 we beat the Roosters 23-22. They were defending premiers so people say that's what kick-started our season. But it wasn't.

"A week later we led Canberra by about 18 and got rundown.

"It was in Round 6 when we beat the Warriors away in Auckland, beat them up physically and played close to the perfect game.

"I remember being on the bus afterwards, going back to the hotel saying to Craig Gower and a few others 'you know what, if we stay fit we're a chance of making the finals'.

"And from there we went on a run of eight weeks, which is when we started to believe we could win it."

Which is also why Sattler has no doubt about the Roosters now.

"Obviously they're more vulnerable having lost Cooper Cronk and Latrell Mitchell," he said.

"Without Latrell, they'll have to find anywhere from 10 to 14 points a game.

"But while they'll be more challenged than in previous years, they're continually able to find replacements better than most."


Originally published as Stats amazing: Why slow starters have real shot at top four