Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall says he can't wait to lace up a boot with club legend Brad Fittler at the upcoming Auckland Nines tournament.
With NRL head of football Todd Greenberg confirming Fittler has been cleared to take part in the tournament at a press conference, Kenny-Dowall told NRL.com it was an opportunity most current players would marvel at.
"Watching him grow up as a legend of the game, having him as a coach, it's going to be good to lace up a boot with him - I'm really excited to run around the park with Freddy Fittler," Kenny-Dowall said.
Fittler hasn't looked out of place at Roosters training recently, he added.
"He's a natural born leader, his presence is definitely felt on the field. His voice and his skill, he's still a very competitive sort of a person and I'm more than sure he's going to hold his own in the Nines tournament," Kenny-Dowall said.
Having suffered a broken jaw in the 2013 grand final that kept him out of the recent World Cup, Kenny-Dowall said he had recently returned to full contact training and had been given confirmation by coach Trent Robinson that he would be travelling to Auckland. Club captain Anthony Minichiello recently confirmed most or all of the Roosters' World Cup contingent would sit out the pre-season tournament.
Kenny-Dowall said he expected to have to adapt his game on the fly to the different structure of Nines football, but also believed his game was suited to the format.
Asked about greater opportunities to run from dummy-half, Kenny-Dowall said: "Yeah that's my game you know, space out wide and through the middle, there's going to be plenty of space and I'm excited about it."
"It's something we're going to have to adapt to and see the flow of the games. Obviously we're going to have to watch a lot of the games and adapt on the run."
Earlier at the event press conference Kenny-Dowall dismissed suggestions Fittler's inclusion showed the Roosters weren't taking the competition seriously.
"I say that's rubbish - every time you put on the Roosters jersey we take a lot of passion in it, this Auckland Nines tournament will be no different, we're going out to win. That's the attitude we'll have," he said.
Asked the same question, Fittler responded: "The good thing at 42 is you don't really care what other people think anymore... They haven't seen me play, hopefully they'll make a comment after and hopefully they'll be able to reassess what they've been thinking."
Asked why he first decided to make a comeback, Fittler said it was simply because his manager, Wayne Beavis, had asked him to.
"I didn't really think about my answer until later but the more I thought about it the more excited I got about it. Sitting there watching the Roosters play last year - I don't think I've seen a club play with so much spirit in the last 12 years.
"It's great to be a part of that group, I've had a couple of sessions with them now - it gets the blood boiling again, it's a great group to be around, they work hard for each other so I know they'll look after me."
He said the intensity training "definitely hurts" and that his body was breaking down a bit.
"Just getting your head in that position where if you get hurt - that's the hardest thing to do in rugby league so I've been just trying to practice a bit of that and basically getting out there with the players - that's going to be my biggest role is being with the players."