Wests Tigers players say they would welcome a Round 1 showdown with former skipper Robbie Farah when he makes his NRL debut with new club the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
While the draw for the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season is still a few weeks away, rugby league fans are already fantasising about their dream match-ups, with this one being high on the list.
As the Tigers returned to pre-season training on Monday morning – the first time since 2003 without Farah – his former teammates said they would relish the opportunity of taking him on in the season opener.
"It'll be a fiery clash. If that was the case then I think that would be great for the game," Tigers back-rower Chris Lawrence said.
"Hopefully it's one of our home games so it's a packed crowd. I'm sure whenever we come up against the Rabbitohs, Robbie's going to be fired up and I'm sure he'll be looking to have a good game.
"Like any long-term player going to a different club, it seems a bit weird, but after a few games I think people will get used to him in new colours.
"I spoke to him and saw him a few times in the off-season and I've had a chat with him since he's been back [at Rabbitohs training]. He's enjoying it and enjoying the new challenge."
Tim Grant – who used to play for the Rabbitohs – said it was part and parcel for the modern player to move to a new club, even at their backend of their careers.
"You've got to be a bit of a chameleon these days. Everyone's got to change colours at some stage and it's just part of the game," he said.
"We're going to have to play Souths some time down the line, so why not Round 1?
"I'm sure Robbie will be missed around the place. He was a mate of a lot of guys here. We wish him all the best and I'm sure he'll go on and succeed at Souths."
With 247 games worth of experience now gone, Lawrence said the onus was on the rest of the spine to lift in 2017.
The youthful triumvirate of James Tedesco, Mitch Moses and Luke Brooks won't be alone, however, with veteran hooker Matt Ballin recovering well from his season-ending knee injury and on track for a Round 1 return.
"The experience he (Farah) brings in big matches is something we're definitely going to miss, but obviously that's something the younger guys – particularly the younger halves – are going to have to step up again and make up for what we miss with him," Lawrence said.
"I hear Matty Ballin is going really well. He's doing all his rehab and he's right on track to get back. Hopefully he's ready to go for the start of the season."