Melbourne prop Jesse Bromwich has praised Jared Waerea-Hargreaves as being in career-best form as the Sydney Roosters search to find a way to win through to the NRL grand final without their chief enforcer.
Bromwich has been robbed of a chance to go head-to-head with his good mate and fellow Kiwis Test prop after Waerea-Hargreaves was suspended for Saturday's preliminary final at the SCG.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Bromwich laid the platform for the Storm's 32-0 semi-final thumping of Parramatta and the Roosters pack face a tough task to fight fire with fire without Waerea-Hargreaves.
Statistically, Waerea-Hargreaves is one of his side's most important players - with him in the side they win 77 per cent of the time but that drops to 44 per cent when he's absent.
"When you're throwing out numbers like that it's obviously a bit of a loss," Bromwich said.
"But they've got Siosiua Taukeiaho, who's been rated one of the best props in the world at the moment, they've got Isaac Liu and Victor Radley playing some good football and they're still playing some good football.
"Jared is a really good player and they lose a little bit, but they've still got cover."
While Bromwich spoke in glowing terms for the rest of the Roosters forwards, he conceded that Waerea-Hargreaves' loss was a big obstacle for them to overcome.
This year Waerea-Hargreaves has averaged 14.4 carries and 128m per game - the most of his career.
Over the past several seasons, Waerea-Hargreaves and Bromwich have had their enthralling duels including last year's grand final.
Waerea-Hargreaves was influential in the opening salvos and helped pave the way for the Roosters' 21-6 win.
From 2014 to 2016, Bromwich kept Waerea-Hargreaves out of New Zealand's Test side but the Storm front-rower played down the suggestion there was any extra spice when they came up against each other.
He said Waerea-Hargreaves thrived on big games and had shown that consistently over the past 18 months.
"I've played with him for the Kiwis and over the last year-and-a-half I think he's been playing his best football," Bromwich said.
"He's been bringing that every week. But I think he just likes playing in big games."
Australian Associated Press