Cameron McInnes used to look up to Api Koroisau when they were coming through the Rabbitohs system, but the new Dragons hooker won't have any time for sentiment when he takes on his former mentor on Saturday afternoon.
The pair were members of South Sydney's Holden Cup squad in 2012 with the experienced Koroisau looking after McInnes before he graduated to the NRL side.
A lot has changed since then – McInnes is in his first year at the Dragons while Koroisau is now at the Sea Eagles – but the pair have tried to stay in contact whenever possible.
"When I first came into 20s, he (Koroisau) was the hooker at Souths. He was a great player back then – he still is now – but he was really good in the 20s which meant I didn't get to play much at the time," McInnes told NRL.com.
"I learnt a lot off him and then he went up into first grade which allowed me to play a couple of years in 20s. We then played a bit together for a while before he went to Penrith.
"When you're young and have a player like him to compete against, it makes you better on and off the field and pushes you to bring the best out of yourself. Even though we were competing for a spot in the team, we didn't let it affect our friendship off the field.
"We try to keep in touch but obviously people go their separate ways after a while. He's up in Manly while I'm down in Wollongong, but we've got some mutual friends so there's always an opportunity for us to cross paths and catch up."
With both the Dragons and Sea Eagles currently on three-game winning streaks, Saturday's clash at Lottoland shapes as one of the matches of the round, and also a good opportunity for McInnes to get back to Sydney to visit friends and family.
Most people assumed the Rabbitohs junior would play out his career in Redfern, but after three seasons with the Bunnies, the 23-year-old made the move south to the Dragons and has been loving every minute of the change of scenery.
"I watched a lot of footy growing up and there weren't a lot of one-club players and that hasn't really changed in the modern game," McInnes said.
"I enjoyed my time at Souths and I was happy to stay there, but this opportunity came up and I's so glad I jumped at it because it's been great – not just because of footy, but also for a lifestyle change. It's my first time out of Sydney and if you stay in that bubble your whole life then you don't get to experience new things.
"I'm not one to read the papers and put my head in the news too much, but it's the little things like traffic and things like that. It's a bit slower here and the more relaxed environment suits me better. I enjoy getting back to Sydney but I definitely notice how full-on it is every time I go back.
"I'm enjoying the lifestyle down here and the culture of the Dragons. We've had a good month of footy to start off with so I'm really enjoying it here."