Aubusson raises stakes in battle for the centres
By Adam Hicks
FRESH from signing a new two-year deal with the Roosters, Ballina's Mitch Aubusson is eying off one of the club's highly-coveted centre spots.
The easy-going 20-year-old played 18 games at the top level in 2007 in the NRL and became a regular starter toward the end of the season.
But Anthony Minichiello's return from injury will see New Zealand international Sam Perrett shift out of fullback and pressure Aubusson for his outside back position.
"'Mini' is back, Perrett will go into the centres and there's a lot of young kids and a lot of competition for those positions," Aubusson said.
"At the start of the year I just signed a new deal.
"I will be trying to play centres.
"As long as I stay injury free, I can't see any reason why I can't."
The 2008 season, Aubusson's third at the club, also sees him joined by older brother, James, 22, who was the 18th man for the Melbourne Storm's premiership team.
"I was a bit nervous about him coming to the club because he is the older brother and you think about that," Mitch said.
"I do look up to him and he'll help me out and be honest with me too.
"He's doing fine and he's got the respect of the boys.
"He runs all the stretching sessions."
James is expected to move into front row.
"James has just had his groin operated on ... he's itching to get back into training," Mitch said.
"He'll be our starting hooker, I think.
"Coming from Melbourne, he has brought so much ... that's what we're trying to get into the club; a bit of the Melbourne attitude.
"From playing against them, they were all good mates and all played for each other and that took them over the line."
James isn't the Roosters' only new recruit with NRL bad boy Willie Mason publicly splitting from the Bulldogs to move to the Bondi club in the off-season.
"I don't really pay much attention to the stuff he's said in the media," Mitch said.
"Someone of Willie's calibre will boost our forwards on experience alone.
"I think he'll be really good for us ... he'll be a gun.
"He's training really hard and earning the respect of the boys at the moment."