Warriors star Sam Tomkins faces off against the man who’ll replace him next season, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, when the Sydney Roosters travel to Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
Tomkins was hailed as the saviour of the franchise when the club recruited the England hotshot on a record transfer fee in 2013.
However the 26-year-old will return home at the end of this season with his tail between his legs after struggling to consistently transfer his Super League form to the NRL.
In his place next year will be the rising Tuivasa-Sheck, who has shot to stardom in his first season as a first-choice fullback in Bondi, lighting up the competition with his deft footwork.
The New Zealand representative has arguably been the Roosters’ best this season, leading the team in running metres (216 per game), tackle breaks (51) and line breaks (10).
In contrast, Tomkins has endured a miserable second season in the NRL, making just three appearances for the year.
The Wigan Warriors-bound custodian has missed eight of the club’s past nine games due to injury, including being a late withdrawal in last week’s heavy 36-4 defeat to South Sydney.
Both teams have been beset by the Origin period, with a combined six players away in Melbourne for game two.
Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman and Roosters pair Aidan Guerra and Dylan Napa are in camp with Queensland, while Ryan Hoffman, Michael Jennings and Mitchell Pearce have been preparing with NSW.
Warriors second-gamer Raymond Faitala-Mariner gets the first start of his career in a raw forward pack that also includes rookie Sam Lisone.
“Our young forwards have got no fear themselves. I expect them to stand up,” said coach Andrew McFadden.
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has been a late withdrawal due to a calf problem, meaning 18th man Suaia Matagi is likely to make his club debut against his former team.
High-profile Roosters recruit Blake Ferguson will make his long-awaited comeback from foot surgery.
STATS THAT MATTER
– Manu Vatuvei needs one more try this season to become the first player in premiership history to score 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons. He has scored seven tries in his past seven matches. Vatuvei requires two tries to equal Frank Burge (146 tries) in 12th on the alltime leading tryscorer list.
– Shaun Kenny-Dowall is just a double away from equalling Bill Mullins (104 tries) as the Roosters’ second leading tryscorer behind Anthony Minichiello (139 tries). Kenny-Dowall has his best strike rate against the Warriors, scoring nine tries in 11 matches, including five tries in five matches at Mt Smart.
– The Warriors have made the most errors this season (13 per game) and have the second worst completion rate (71 per cent), while the Roosters don’t fare much better making the third most errors (12.4 per game) and having the third worst completion rate (71 per cent).