James Aubusson will make a return to training soon after recovering from a knee operation earlier this year.
James Aubusson will make a return to training soon after recovering from a knee operation earlier this year.

Aubusson boys welcome coach

THE Sydney Roosters are set to hold a year-long Northern Rivers reunion next season with Ballina’s James and Mitch Aubusson welcoming Casino’s Brian Smith as coach of the NRL club.

A former Maclean and Casino resident, Smith has held coaching roles since 1984 so when he left Newcastle to join the Roosters this year he had ‘an idea of what to expect’.

“A lot of people (at the Roosters) are hurting from what happened last season,” Smith said, “but they are willing to help rebuild the club.”

As for working with the Aubusson brothers, Smith admitted to a bit of friendly teasing.

“I tease them all the time about Casino beating Ballina in the golden days,” he laughed.

“But they are a credit to themselves and their families.”

Mitch said it was a ‘bit weird’ to have another former northern NSW resident joining the team, and said Smith brought up some friendly rivalry that went on in the area.

“I hadn’t really met him before last week and he’s sort of said there was a bit of rivalry between Casino and Ballina and he’s had a couple of little fly jokes about us being Ballina boys,” he laughed.

The Aubusson brothers have undergone operations this year and are only just getting back into pre-season training.

Mitch had an ankle operation at the end of the season but said he would be back to full training ‘in a week or two’, while James had a knee reconstruction during the season.

“I’m still recovering, and when James did his knee I was injured at the same time with stress fractures in my lower back,” Mitch said.

“We always support each other, and he has had a tough run with injuries, but that’s the nature of the game. Everyone has stories about their injuries and operations.”

While the Aubussons played together as juniors, the duo weren’t on the same team until James joined Mitchell at the Roosters after a stint with Melbourne Storm.

“It was a tough period for the family,” Mitch laughed.

“I don’t know which team they supported; they congratulated the winner and had sympathy for the loser.”

While the Aubussons work their way back into training, Smith is busy creating it, getting used to his role with the ‘organisational things’ and devising pre-season training sessions.

“It’s going pretty well and the last couple of weeks have been getting our training underway,” he said.

“The boys have responded well.

“James is a week or two away from resuming full training and Mitch isn’t far behind him.

“They are in rehab and so far have been doing some parts of training and really just have to build up slowly now.”

Smith said that for Mitch, the operation was a ‘routine thing’ for footballers.

“It’s a relatively minor operation, and is a routine thing for footballers because of the wear and tear on their bodies. It’s like a clean-out of the ankle to tidy up fragments and cartilage,” he said.

Smith said the Aubusson brothers were ‘extremely dedicated athletes’, and that this helped them to get back to training as soon as possible.

“They train smart and they train hard, and that has stood them in good stead,” he said.

“I’m really enjoying their company and professionalism.”

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