Roosters pick positives from injury plight

They Sydney Roosters figure there are two ways of looking at the ill-timed injuries to Jake Friend and Michael Gordon.

On the one hand, their top-four charge has been dealt a blow, their star stocks depleted just as crucial clashes against ladder-leaders Melbourne, third-placed Manly and North Queensland loom.

On the other, the second-placed side can embrace their young talent, grind out wins and then regain two key players in fresh shape for the finals.

Trent Robinson's men choose the latter.

While Gordon might be out for the rest of the regular season with a pectoral injury, the veteran has an apt replacement in Connor Watson, a leading candidate to play fullback against Newcastle on Friday night.

Should Latrell Mitchell be handed the No.1 role instead, rising utility Watson could cover for Friend at hooker while the co-captain tends to his broken hand.

Either way, five-eighth Luke Keary wasn't getting bogged down under the pressure of a tight and tense top six.

"It'll be exciting to see Connor get a run there (at fullback), and then we've got some good young kids to fill in that No.9 position," Keary said.

"Mitch Cornish played a really good game against Souths so he'll probably slot in there at some point.

"It's not good but in saying that, they're both probably going to be back for that last little bit before the finals.

"That could be a bit of a blessing in disguise for us, to get a few of the old boys back fresh."

Prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves believed workhouse Friend needed time out anyway or was running the risk of burnout.

"He sort of needs a bit of a rest," Jared Waerea-Hargreaves said.

"It's a good time for us to bring in some guys and see how they go, see if we're really up to scratch in the middle there.

"With the amount of workload Jake does we're going to have to take it upon us."

In positive news, the Roosters expect to welcome back Boyd Cordner after the NSW skipper overcame his calf injury just in time for Wednesday's State of Origin series-deciding defeat.

Fellow Origin players Mitchell Pearce, Dylan Napa and Blake Ferguson are also set to return to training on Wednesday.

Photo: Copyright: NRL Photos. (Connor Watson could start at fullback or hooker for the Roosters in Round 20).