You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Bears and Roosters set for friendly rivalry in 2023

Jason Taylor has a diplomatic line to tread this year as head coach of the North Sydney Bears while still being a consultant with the Sydney Roosters, with both clubs fielding teams in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup for 2023.

But it won’t be too uncomfortable he says – “just a bit weird” to use his words - for the Round Five (Wentworth Park, 2 April) and Round 24 (North Sydney Oval, 13 August) match-ups between the two clubs.

“… because the full-time players who train with each other every week, when the Bears play the Roosters, there’s going to be guys on opposite sides there,” Taylor told

“So that will be a really interesting one, but not a major problem. Everyone will just get on with it.”

Taylor has coached the Bears in the NSW Cup since 2019 but in that time has also been on Trent Robinson’s coaching staff for the NRL set-up and has a strong relationship with Bondi Junction club.

The Bears have been the Roosters NSW Cup feeder club for the past four years, but the arrangement ceases at the end of 2023.

“We’ve talked about it in some detail on how it will work this year,” Taylor said.

“It’s meant that we’ve had to recruit more players because it will mean a bit of a sharing of the players coming back – some players will go to the Bears and some to the Roosters in NSW Cup.”

The Bears do not have a Jersey Flegg side but the Roosters do, allowing the club in 2023 to feature in every grade from Harold Matthews through to the NRL for the first time in almost 20 years.

“And that’s a bit of what the Roosters wanted to do (by re-entering NSW Cup); they want to use that grade as more development,” Taylor said.

“The position the Bears are in with possibilities of NRL down the track, we’re looking for a bit more success and the strongest team we can get on the field. And that’s where those things didn’t align perfectly between the two clubs.”

Former Roosters Jersey Flegg coach Tony Barnes is the new head coach for The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup side. The club has not been part of the NSWRL’s premier men’s competition since 2005, having won nine Grand Finals - the last in 2004.

“I’ve worked a lot with Tony and we both understand the situation, there’s great mutual respect there,” Taylor said.

As for the personnel in his 2023 Bears squad, Taylor is still finalising that.

“There won’t be major changes,” he said.

“At the Bears we’ve recruited some halves and hookers to fill those roles.

“We are still sorting through which players are coming to the Bears and which to the Roosters.”

Last year the Bears were able to call on nine Roosters players including Joseph Suaali’i, Kevin Naiqama, Drew Hutchinson and Fletcher Baker to play in the famous red and black jersey.

Things will be different this time around. The Bears have also lost last year’s top try-scorer from the NSW Cup, Tom Carr, who is off to South Sydney.

“Tom got an opportunity full-time with the Rabbitohs, which is a great for him and I’m really happy he could get that, but we will miss him,” Taylor said.

Former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs hooker-halves utility Zach Dockar-Clay, who had 14 games in the NRL in 2022, has signed with the Bears for 2023.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Platinum Partner

Major Partners

View All Partners