Towering Roosters teenager Joseph Suaalii won't be running out with his teammates against the Knights in round one as he goes through the final stages of his recovery from last year's season-ending foot injury but isn't too far off.
The 18-year-old told media this week he was doing everything he needed to do at training but wouldn't be rushing the last pieces of his preparation.
"I haven't got a time frame yet but I know I'll be back in the early rounds," said Suaalii, who played the last of his five NRL matches to date in round 16 last year before undergoing surgery on a Lisfranc injury.
"Now I'm just being patient with my recovery and should be back in the early rounds.
"I'm back full running, training, full contact, everything I'm supposed to be doing, just taking time to get my body right and coming back in the season ready to go."
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The Roosters lost both Morris twins, Brett and Josh, plus Dale Copley, to retirement, and Matt Ikuvalu to the Sharks, but aren't exactly short on outside backs in Suaalii's absence.
They have picked up Kevin Naiqama on his return from the Super League and Paul Momirovski back from the Panthers. A round-one three-quarter line of Daniel Tupou, Momirovski, Joey Manu and Naiqama looms, but Suaalii will be pressing his claims for a spot sooner than later – and doesn't care whether it's at centre or wing.
"To be honest I'm not really fussed where I play," he said.
"At training I train everywhere, or I try to anyway. I'm happy wherever Robbo puts me."
He feels "100%" more prepared for NRL footy this year having debuted as a 17-year-old and got a taste of things last year.
"To get that first season under your belt, you have to take all your lessons from there and actually see how footy is played in the NRL," he said.
"Being able to play this year having a good base from last year, I'll be ready to go."
Following on from the tug-of-war for his services with former club the Rabbitohs then into needing an NRL exemption to debut before turning 18, it was hardly a routine introduction to first grade for Suaalii, who seemed to take it all in his stride.
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"There was a lot of talk but I just kept it as a footy game and just played footy," he said.
"That's what I do and what I've been doing since I was a four-year-old kid. Just kept it simple.
"It's a bit different having all the limelight and stuff, it's something you have to handle. I had big support from my family and my good mates as well.
"'Robbo' (coach Trent Robinson' was just reminding me it's a footy game, you're there playing footy, you're not reading the headlines so I just kept it simple."