Apprentice returns to face master
Ever since reserve Rabbitohs rake Api Koroisau stepped in to replace senior hooker Issac Luke in the club's momentous 2014 Grand Final win, the two players have been indelibly linked.
Koroisau has spoken effusively many times about the incredible support Luke showed him that week as the young Fijian stepped in to help the Bunnies to a drought-breaking premiership after a season of quality service from Luke was cruelly cut short by an untimely one-game suspension rubbing him out of the decider.
Both are at different clubs now and they will come face to face at Luke's new home in Auckland when Koroisau's Sea Eagles visit Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday.
Koroisau will be in the less familiar position of halfback but expect him to be heavily involved after his first match in the maroon and white No.7 last week saw him claim the man of the match prize in a losing side.
For his part, Luke struck form in a thrilling golden point win over the Roosters last week, producing his best game of the year after a sluggish start, notching six tackle breaks and 127 metres to go with his 30 tackles.
"He's a huge friend of mine. I love him to death. He was a massive help to me at Souths as well," Koroisau said ahead of the game.
"It's going to be fun to come up against him, to play against him."
Reflecting on that memorable first week in October in 2014, Koroisau said the support Luke had given him was "unreal".
"I can never thank him enough for that. I hope I get to catch-up with him before we play," he said.
While the two remain firm friends off the field, Koroisau added there would be no questions over the allegiance of each once kick-off rolls around.
"When you cross that white line it's all about the football. I'll be looking to take his head off and I'm sure he'll be looking to take mine off too!" he laughed.
Reminded about Luke's belligerent form last week he added: "He's a strong bugger! We'll try and keep him quiet during the game. It'll be interesting to see if we can do that."
The challenge will also be a significant one for Manly hooker Matt Parcell, whose strong start to the year briefly pushed Koroisau back to reserve grade as the rookie took over full-time hooking duties.
The chance to line up against one of the benchmark No.9s of the past decade was not lost on Parcell either.
"Every game you're coming up against someone you've watched on TV throughout the years and this week's no different," Parcell told NRL.com.
"He's a great player and he's a very good runner which is something I'm trying to work on and trying to improve in my game."
The Warriors and Sea Eagles kick off at 5:30pm (AEST) on Saturday.