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Robinson wants Leniu to maintain punch as starting prop

3 minute read

Spencer Leniu was the game's best bench forward at Penrith, but Trent Robinson wants to turn him into a starting prop at the Sydney Roosters.

TRENT ROBINSON.
TRENT ROBINSON. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson plans on turning Spencer Leniu into a starting front-rower who packs as much punch as he did when coming off the bench for Penrith.

With Jared Waerea-Hargreaves suspended, Leniu will start for the Roosters in Saturday night's (Sunday AEDT) NRL clash with Brisbane at Las Vegas's Allegiant Stadium.

The 23-year-old earned the reputation of being one of the most impactful bench forwards in the NRL at Penrith, coming off the bench in all but three of his 83 matches.

But Robinson has confirmed he intends to use the Samoa Test representative differently.

While it is possible Leniu will drop back to the bench on Waerea-Hargreaves' return against Manly in round two, the long-term plan is for the former Panther to be a starting prop for the Roosters.

And Robinson wants him to produce the same power and output from the opening kick off.

"That's definitely the goal," Robinson said.

"Spencer's won three premierships, played a really key role in that power punch off the bench and he's changed momentum in games.

"But he's not fixed on that. He has been doing that since he was age 19 to 22.

"The older he gets, the idea is to develop into that starting role and do the same thing for 10 to 15 minutes more, and start and end a game.

"We want to start that tomorrow. We've got other guys that can start ... but Spencer's there for that."

The Roosters will lose Waerea-Hargreaves at the end of this year to the Super League, meaning they will need Leniu to partner Lindsay Collins into the future.

Waerea-Hargreaves' presence has been largely under-rated in the Roosters' success, with the Kiwi having won three premierships at the club.

In doing so, he has been one of the most consistent forwards in the NRL and the Roosters now need Leniu to step up and become a leader.

"As a front-rower he's got an extreme power and ability to change the ruck," Robinson said.

"That's why we got him here and we really want him to continue that.

"But also, the older he gets, (to) develop into a leader and a starting front-rower.

"He can really push our game forward, which we felt like we needed after last year."

The Roosters have lost Billy Smith to a minor hamstring injury for the Broncos clash.

Joseph Aukuso-Suaalii will move to centre, with Fetalaiga 'Junior' Pauga to come in on the wing.

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