Fullback Omar Slaimankhel says he can't wait to run back out onto Eden Park for his first senior game in Roosters colours at the Downer Auckland Nines, having spent plenty of his time in junior footy at the ground.
The Warriors junior told NRL.com that he played high school first XV rugby for Auckland Boys Grammar at the ground, as well as his first ever game for the junior Warriors, against Parramatta.
"Auckland's amazing. I grew up here, I played on Eden Park so going back on Eden Park's going to be good," he said.
"I get to see family and friends here as well. I grew up in Epsom and went to Auckland Boys Grammar School and played first XV over there. That's where I played most of my junior footy. I played a bit at Mount Albert Lions and from there I was at the Warriors."
Slaimankhel played last season with Roosters' feeder club Wyong Roos in NSW Cup, having joined after the season started, and is hoping a full pre-season this year will set him up for a strong 2016 in what will be his first year on the full time Roosters roster.
"It's very exciting. Coming into the season last year halfway, I hadn't had a pre-season so that was pretty tough so I'm really excited to have a full pre-season under my belt and hopefully it pays off during the season, I'm excited for this season," he said.
"I haven't had any injuries this year so pretty excited, real keen to have a run around with the ball and it should be good running footy [this weekend] which is what we like in the backs."
There hadn't been much of a focus on dedicated Nines training over the Roosters pre-season, he said, but hoped a huge focus on fitness and his own rugby sevens background would stand him in good stead.
"I played some sevens growing up so hopefully that helps but nothing compares to a proper game. We've done heaps over pre-season and I'm real excited to get out on the field and run with the ball for a change," he said.
"We've done a lot of fitness and stuff which will pay dividends when we are playing but not so much specific Nines stuff. We've talked about it a lot which will hopefully come into play this weekend."
Slaimankhel nominated young guns Connor Watson, Latrell Mitchell and Joseph Manu as names to watch for the Roosters this weekend.
"They've been killing it in the 20s comp for some time now so it'll be real good to see them running around with the big boys," he said.
"They've been training well and they've got some serious skill which will be good, they get a good opportunity in this Nines comp against some big names."