'Ultimate club man' Aubusson hits 250-game milestone
Three days before his NRL debut, Chris Anderson is teaching Mitch Aubusson how to kick a footy.
The two-time premiership-winning coach is pitching this unknown 19-year-old into the famous red, white and blue No.6 jumper.
Craig Wing, Braith Anasta and Brett Finch have all had a crack at five-eighth since Brad Fittler's retirement, but in 2007, incoming coach Anderson has gone all-in on the blonde kid from Ballina.
Aubusson's never played in the halves in his life. Hence the last-minute kicking practice.
The experiment lasted just 80 minutes, and Anderson only a few more months as an NRL coach.
But the blonde kid from Ballina has gone the distance and then some in rugby league terms, now lining up in his 250th Roosters game against Brisbane this Friday.
That debut over a decade ago says it all about Aubusson. Under prepared, but stepping into the breach for Roosters royalty. Rising to exalted status himself within the four walls of the Bondi club, by always putting it first.
"He's our club man, he represents the ideals of our club from player to staff member, he lives those," coach Trent Robinson says.
"He's the ultimate club man. He's played many different positions. He's played many different roles in the club from a kid through to a senior leader and he represents how we want to perform daily. That's Mitch Aubusson.
"You can see Mitch isn't the biggest guy. Nor the fastest nor the strongest.
"But he gets himself to an intensity level every game where he gets the best out of himself and that's what you want in a player.
"That's why he's an inspiration to our team and our supporters."
Those Roosters ideals Robinson speaks of in Aubusson buck the stereotypes that will always ring true for rival fans – regardless of the reality.
Not once has he even been mentioned in an off-field scandal. When he started his time with the Tricolours, teammates could be found in the front pages of the paper as often as the back.
The temptation to leave a club often derided as the game's Transit Lounge has been there, but Aubusson has paid it little mind.
"I don't think we've ever been close to losing Mitch," Robinson says.
"I think people have offered Mitch over the years and as they should. A high quality player, but as I said, Mitch is a Rooster and he's shown that and that's why we're up to 250."
Even in the Chooks' 250-plus club, which will feature Aubusson, Anthony Minichiello (302 games) and Luke Ricketson (301), the Ballina boy stands out.
Ricketson once claimed Cleo bachelor of the year honours, Minichiello married the magazine's former fashion director Terry Biviano.
They're more than comfortable in the social pages. Aubusson's still sporting a 12-stitch zipper on his forehead from earlier in the year. He's more than happy to leave the spotlight to his teammates.
"They are pretty good lookin' fellas aren't they," Aubusson grins.
"They're some pretty special guys up front. To be third on that list in (over)100 years of footy is something that I'll be really proud of.
"Some of the media stuff is a bit uncomfortable for me, I'm not really on social media and that sort of stuff. I love coming in and doing my job and I've loved doing it for the past 12 years.
"It's a privilege to be here and play for this club and I've taken that every day that I've come in.
"You have your good days and your bad days but it's always a privilege to wear this jersey, whether it's on the training field or playing field. I definitely count my blessings."
So do the Roosters. As one of their genuine favourite sons knocks off a significant milestone, the club will once again look to follow his lead.
"We've talked about it this week and celebrated Mitch but also made sure the focus is on playing a strong game," Robinson says.
"That's Mitch's want for this game."