We need to find killer instinct: Roosters

It's the stat that haunts the Sydney Roosters' flop of a 2016 NRL campaign.

But for skipper Jake Friend - who isn't interested in making excuses - it's a reminder of just how ordinary they were last year.

Hanging over the Roosters' annus horribilis is a sense of 'what could have been?'

The history books show the Roosters finished second-last during a six-victory season.

However, frustratingly, they also lost eight games - the most in the competition - by four points or less.

Had they won all eight of those matches, the Roosters would have finished on 32 points and made the finals.

Rather than use it as a reminder of how close they were to getting it right, Friend see it as reinforcement of the sharp edge between being a contender and a pretender.

Premiers Cronulla won seven matches, including their grand final victory over Melbourne, by four points or less.

Friend admits they lacked that killer instinct to close out games when they were in the balance and refused to sugarcoat how ordinary they were.

"That's the difference between good and average teams - those four points," Friend said.

"We were there in a lot of games and we were close but we just couldn't get that extra little bit.

"Hopefully with the pre-season we've had, we've pushed each other, the boys have worked hard and what we've done now will give us that little bit extra.

"And if the game's on the line we can close it out."

Heading into their season-opener against Gold Coast on Saturday, the tricolours have renewed vigour, hope and are back to being highly fancied by pundits and bookies.

Unlike the same time last year, they are largely injury free and devoid of distractions.

Lock Sio Siua Taukeiaho is their only injury concern and is expected to miss the first six to eight weeks with a ruptured knee ligament.

They have received reinforcements in fullback Michael Gordon and five-eighth Luke Keary while his playmaking partner Mitchell Pearce is fighting fit and available.

Following his much-publicised breakdown and time in an overseas rehabilitation facility, Pearce is reportedly focused, healthy and in a good head space after last week signing a two-year contract extension.

Asked about the biggest difference between the Pearce of 2016 and the Pearce of 2017, Friend said: "He's in Australia, not Thailand.

"As a mate I couldn't be more proud of Mitch. For him to re-sign, it shows how well he's been going and how much he means to this club.

"I wouldn't say he's a different person but he knows exactly who he is and who he wants to be."