Written by AJ Mithen
Every rugby league club has their superstars, their young guns and their useful role players who drift in and out of the team. But to be truly successful, teams need an anchor, a player who is dependable week in, week out.
The Sydney Roosters’ Mitchell Aubusson is one of these players. The spiritual heart of the back-to-back defending premier will notch his 300th NRL game when he runs out onto WIN Stadium to face St George-Illawarra on Thursday night.
Aubusson will become the third Roosters player to reach the milestone in the club’s 112-year history, currently sitting behind club icons Luke Ricketson (301 games) and Anthony Minichiello (302). If all goes well, he should break Minichello’s record in round 16 against Brisbane.
He’s played through the Roosters’ peaks and troughs – yes, believe it or not the Roosters have had lean periods – and has been a fixture, winning the club’s James Mathews Award for Clubman of the Year in 2011, 2015 and 2016, when his club won just 6 games and finished second bottom before launching into their current vein of form.
He’s a triple premiership player, raising the premiership trophy in 2013, 2018 and 2019.
Aubusson has a winning record against 10 of the 15 other NRL clubs and is a real chance to add at least two more to that list over the remainder of 2020’s coronavirus-affected season. He’s one of those players that teammates love to play with and fans know how important they are, but they still don’t get the accolades of the big stars.
He fits perfectly into Roosters coach Trent Robinson’s plans because he is adaptable, consistent and absolutely committed to the team’s cause.
Robinson knows he can use Aubusson in any situation anywhere on the field – probably best highlighted in the 2018 Grand Final win over Melbourne when Aubusson was deployed as a nominal halfback but with instructions to protect Cooper Cronk, who went into the game with a serious shoulder injury.
Without Aubusson’s energy and focus in that game to cut down runner after runner honing in on a dinged up Cronk, the grand final story could have been vastly different. But that’s what Mitch Aubusson is about – doing whatever his team needs and doing it well.
His teammates know Aubusson will deliver over and over again. They trust in his ability to fill gaps because they’ve seen him play second row, centre, five-eighth, hooker, you name it. He can defend anywhere in the line, giving real starch to one of the NRL’s best performed defences over the years.
“Stand Up and Fight Hard”
Trent Robinson spoke to the media ahead of Round 13 and answered questions regarding the Roosters desire for improvement, Mitchell Aubusson’s 300th game, and more 🐓 #EastsToWin https://t.co/7C58FAx7Qw
— Sydney Roosters 🏆🏆 (@sydneyroosters) August 4, 2020
His importance to the Roosters’ structure was also evident in last year’s grand final, when he went off injured in the first half. Shortly afterwards Canberra scored their only try for the game through the spot Aubusson would have been guarding.
When you think of the Roosters you immediately think of household names like James Tedesco, Luke Keary and Joseph Manu.
If you ask them which teammate they want to be shoulder to shoulder with every week, they’ll tell you it’s Mitch Aubusson.
It’s not easy to play rugby league. More and more we’re seeing brutal injuries and getting a better understanding of the wear and tear on player’s bodies as they put themselves through the grinder.
The average NRL career is around 48 games, barely two seasons. To be consistent and durable enough to reach 300 games is an incredible achievement.
A one club player who has had his suitors over the years but stayed true to the red, white and blue, we should all tip our cap to a true professional.