Roosters star Angus Crichton will slot into the best left edge in the game off the back of his first full pre-season in years, with Luke Keary backing his ability to become "a top centre in the game".
Crichton will line up at left centre for the Roosters in Saturday's World Club Challenge clash against St Helens following Latrell Mitchell's move across Anzac Parade to the Rabbitohs.
Coach Trent Robinson had hoped to play rising youngster Billy Smith in the No.3 jersey until he suffered an ACL rupture.
But even before that devastating blow the Roosters had considered shifting Crichton from the back row, where he alternated between the right edge and interchange bench in what was a slow-burn of a first season at Bondi Junction.
Crichton came into that maiden Roosters campaign from off-season shoulder surgery that severely limited his time to hone combinations with his teammates.
Previous summers have been hampered by hip and finger surgeries, with the middle digit on Crichton's left hand requiring six operations before he had it amputated in late 2017.
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Having finally got through a full off-season the 24-year-old now slots in next to Keary in place of Mitchell, a left-edge combination that has proved a focal point of back-to-back titles.
Keary said Crichton can't be expected to replicate the devastating impact of Mitchell, but believes his former South Sydney teammate has the qualities to be a genuine centre in his own right.
"He won't play your Latrell style centre but he's an exciting different type of centre," Keary told NRL.com.
"The way he plays back-row too, he's not your Boyd Cordner style of player.
"He's got footwork, he's got the fend and the footwork, he can create attacking chances. There's a bit more to his game than most back-rowers, he can pass and kick.
"Speaking about it with Robbo, we're not putting him there just to plug a hole, he could genuinely be a top centre in the game.
"He's super focused and is probably working harder than anyone in the squad off the field and on the field.
"I reckon it's going to be fun to have him next to me with Toops [winger Daniel Tupou] outside, we've had that combination with Boyd going for a while now."
Robinson said Crichton hadn't hesitated when he put the positional shift to him, despite the potential impact on his chances of reclaiming his NSW Origin spot in the back row.
"Gus is the ultimate team guy," Robinson said.
St Helens v Roosters - World Club Challenge
"He loves a challenge, when he puts his mind to it he can achieve anything he wants. And that was his reaction. He said 'OK, I've been dreaming about back-row but if you want me to do a job there I'll do it'.
"Every session he's got better and better and better. He's got more comfortable.
"He's a powerful man and he's a learner and he's surrounded by some key guys there in Tupou and Keary.
"Gus is a competitive guy as well so I've loved to watch him as well adapt and put his mind to it and then perform at training."
The Roosters will field a near-first choice 17 against St Helens, with Cordner reluctantly sitting out to manage another hefty NRL and representative workload in 2020.
Robinson's side went through their paces at an open captain's run at Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday in front of a hardy 100-odd fans who braved the 8-degree conditions.
"If you're a rugby league supporter in England then you're not only a fan, you're a real supporter - one of those people that turn up to everything," Robinson said in praise of the club's UK-based fans.
"They love their rugby league. We saw it at Warrington, we've seen it at St Helens, we're saw fans from Catalans travel down to Barcelona to watch and that's a part of it.
"We want to perform like a Roosters team tomorrow night but we also want to spread rugby league. We don't often have open [training] sessions, we keep things quite private back at home.
"But when you do this you've got a responsibility to the game as well and we're trying to do that."