Well before Moses Mbye established himself as one of the brightest young halves in the competition, Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend knew he was something special.
This Friday’s elimination final clash between the Tri-colours and Canterbury will be significant for both clubs with a berth in the preliminary finals against Brisbane on the line.
However it will hold extra weight for the Mbye and Friend households, as well as their junior club the Noosa Pirates.
Mbye and Friend have been family friends since their youth growing up on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
While the rugby league community is only now beginning to appreciate Mbye’s potential, Friend said it was coming as no surprise the way he had taken the NRL by storm.
“I’m good mates with Moses, he grew up with my little brother,” Friend told AAP.
“I had a lot to do with him his whole childhood and career.
“Moses was always a great player and it’s awesome to see him going as well as he is. But hopefully on Friday he has a shocker.”
The Canterbury half played in the same grade as Friend’s younger brother Zach and was a frequent visitor to their house.
Friend said from very early on he saw that Mbye was a special player.
“He was always one of the stand-outs in his age,” Friend said.
“He’d always play up in the next age and that sort of stuff.
“He probably came along a lot more later in his schoolboys years.”
Mbye and halves partner Josh Reynolds this week find themselves under mounting pressure against the minor premiers.
By their own admission, the Dogs at times took the wrong option and needed better direction in their 11-10 golden point win over St George Illawarra.
While some would argue the Dogs were lacking without the influence of injured NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson, Friend said Mbye still posed a significant threat.
“I think they (Mbye and Reynolds) played well on the weekend and I expect him to turn up and play well on Friday,” Friend said.
“We’ll have to do what we can to put some pressure on them and to try and get some errors out of them.
“Our `D’ was a bit disappointing on the weekend and it’ll be something that we want to get right.”