Brothers to pack a punch

BALLINA brothers James and Mitch Aubusson can expect a tough first-up test when they pack down in the forwards for the Sydney Roosters in the first round of the National Rugby League.

The Roosters take on South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with the Rabbitohs boosted by the off-season recruitment of giant Queenslander Dave Taylor and boom English forward Sam Burgess.

Throw in Roy Asotasi and Luke Stuart, and there’s plenty of size to contend with.

James Aubusson, 24, has been named as hooker and Mitch, 22, in the second row after spending most of last season in the centres.

“We’re expecting a tough contest,” Mitch Aubusson said yesterday.

“Obviously the forward pack is their strength – they are a big team – but they have some fast guys around them.”

Mitch is heading into his fifth season with the Roosters while for James it’s his third season after switching from the Melbourne Storm.

It’s not the first time the brothers will have played together in the forwards – Mitch recalls playing lock while the Roosters had their Origin players away in 2008.

While there have been no fitness worries for Mitch leading into the season, James has had to test out himself out in trial games following a knee reconstruction.

“He played pretty much all the trials,” Mitch Aubusson said of his brother.

“He went all right and was glad to get through the game at Bluetongue Stadium (Gosford) where the injury happened last season.”

And what about new coach Brian Smith?

“It’s going really well,” Aubusson said.

“There are a few new ideas being tossed around and along with some new players there’s a fresh feel around the place.”

And the teams to beat?

The Storm and the Bulldogs.

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