NRL WA Premiership Preview 2024 – Fremantle Cockburn Roosters

By Peter Rowe

2023 NRLWA Premiership grand finalists Fremantle Roosters are still smarting after losing to North Beach at the big dance last year, and as PETER ROWE discovered, they are out for redemption this time around.

Ask captain and 2023 Ken Allen Medal winner Duane Butler if the disappointment of last season’s NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play grand final loss still lingers at the Cockburn-based club and the answer is emphatic.

“Oh, yes. That hurt,” Butler said. “Still does and it’s the reason so many of us are going round again. We have to put it right.”

Butler admitted that hurt has translated to the training field and preseason as the core group of players have worked through the summer months, intent on making amends.

“Last year still hurts but we’ve ramped up training in recent weeks and it’s set the tone for what we want to achieve this season,” Butler said.

“We had it in the bag (the 2023 grand final) and then we blew it, but we have learned a lot from that and we’re ready to go again.”

Is mercurial player-coach Delane Edwards ready to go again? He celebrated his 37th birthday just days after that defeat.

“Oh, yeah, he’s ready. There’s no way he’s leaving after that result,” Butler admitted.

The Roosters, undoubtedly the best group of players the competition has seen in a decade, will again be the team to watch in 2024.

With very little player churn, they will welcome back winger Alan Cowen from long term injury and Tua Rangihaeata, complete with a new hair style, from a short stint at Burleigh Bears in Queensland.

“Tua’s getting some stick from us with his hair but he’s good,” joked Butler. And with Paora Kemp the incumbent fullback, it will be interesting to see how Edwards rotates his players.

A couple of new faces in the middles and some junior acquisitions sees the Roosters looking strong again.

“Last year we changed our shape in the finals and it was a factor. We should have stuck to our guns,” Butler admitted.

“It’s a lesson learnt and I think this year once we have established our shape early in the season, and it’s working, we won’t be changing much.”

The Roosters have a number of players closing in on 100 games and that is another motivator for the senior squad.

“Bjorn Crotty has 97 I think and Alan (Cowen) and Sonny (Kerr) are also close. I think I’m also closing in on that milestone as well,” Butler said.

“To join the Century Club is something special.”

Butler knows though that the path to another grand final is not easy. Looking at the opposition he sees some big games ahead.

“Beach showed last year they are good side and so did Joondalup with Taurean (Sheehan) at the helm,” Butler said.

“South Perth I know have been training well and Eddie (Proudler) and Harry (DeBique) will drive them.

“Then Rockingham have made some big signings. “This is going to be awesome season – bring it on.”