Contrasting fortunes for brothers
BALLINA’S Aubusson brothers look certain to tread different paths in 2011 as their rugby league careers go in opposite directions at the Sydney Roosters.
While younger brother Mitch’s stocks have gone through the roof this year, James is set to be shown the door by the Roosters after another injury-hampered season.
Mitch has become an NRL match-winner but James, it seems, has become unwanted.
Roosters coach and Casino boy Brian Smith will have a lasting effect on both brothers’ careers.
Mitch, a Ballina Seagulls junior, was shifted to the back-row permanently at the start of 2010 and he has gone from strength to strength.
Still growing into his rangy frame, the 22-year-old has scored six tries and set up plenty more, but a trend of scoring when the chips are down is beginning to emerge.
In the Round 18 clash with traditional rivals South Sydney, the Roosters trailed by two points with three minutes to play when Mitch stormed on to a Todd Carney ball and over the try-line to steal the victory.
A week later it was a similar story against 2004 grand final conquerors Canterbury – trailing by two with four minutes to play, it was Mitch who delivered the tri-colours their second come-from-behind win in as many weeks.
But the fortunes of brother James have plummeted.
Since signing with the Roosters in 2008, the 23-year-old has managed only 39 games as his troublesome left knee and ankle rule over what was a promising career.
The club had already shown a preference for bad boy Jake Friend in the hooking role, and the elder Aubusson’s last rites were surely written when the Roosters signed Cowboys rake Anthony Watts earlier this month.
Watts comes to the club on a three-year-deal and while Friend’s contract is heavily laden with clauses on behaviour and performance, it is quite obvious that these are the two hookers the Roosters will run with in their top 25 for 2011 and beyond.
James comes off contract with the Roosters at the end of 2010 while Mitch has another season to build his worth before chasing a new deal – but if he keeps playing the way he is, it will be clubs courting him rather than the opposite.