Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson says telling Josh Morris he was dropped was difficult but he had little option given the veteran centre's dip in form.
The 321-game champion was omitted from Friday night's clash against Newcastle with Robinson opting for rookie Billy Smith and Joey Manu as his centre pairing.
It was a shock call with Smith expected to be the man dropped with the return of James Tedesco from NSW duty at fullback.
"He's (Morris) taken it really well, as a well-experienced guy can do," Robinson said.
"It's really disappointing but also he understands and he's got to get back to training and work.
"It's not what he wants but it's also about getting some time and then getting back to work."
Robinson took no delight in making the decision to give Morris a 'break,' saying it wasn't about making a statement to the team at the back end of the season.
"Josh would admit he's not up to his standard, he doesn't need lessons from me about how to play, he just needed to take five and get back to some training and some rest and then work around what he needs to do. We need him there," Robinson said.
"It's really hard when you see a guy like that and you have to tell them they're not playing, it's not a nice thing to do, it's not about 'I'll show you and you need to perform or else', it's as much me failing as it is Josh.
"It's hard when that happens. But we've just got to keep pushing forward.
"All the guys up here are really stepping up, the guys who aren't playing."
Smith is just two games into his return from a long injury lay off and his inclusion over Morris is a huge vote of confidence for the impressive 21-year-old.
"I've been a fan of Billy for a long time," Robinson said.
"He's got a hardness and intensity about the way that he trains and he turns up every single session, and I like the way he attacked the game on the weekend.
"He's still learning the game at NRL level but he just played with a consistency in that game and took his moments as well, he obviously scored that try and made a break out of the back field, he came up with some high quality plays as well.
"It was a good reintroduction to the NRL."
Australian Associated Press