Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen can vividly recall when he idolised James Tedesco during their time together at the Wests Tigers.
It was three years ago when the two fullbacks were at the Tigers. Papenhuyzen was trying to make a name for himself in the under 20 competition and Tedesco was about to announce himself as one of the superstars of the league.
Their careers have taken different paths since then, with Papenhuyzen now first-choice fullback in Melbourne and Tedesco arguably the best player in the world.
One thing that's remained has been their friendship - but that goes out the window on Saturday night when Papenhuzen's Storm take on Tedesco's Roosters at the SCG. A spot in the grand final awaits the winner.
Papenhuyzen remembers the days at the Wests Tigers when Tedesco was joined by the likes of Mitchell Moses and Aaron Woods in black, white and gold. Despite the raft of big-name players, there was only one player he wanted to emulate.
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"He [Tedesco] would always say g'day when he walked past in the corridors," Papenhuyzen recalled.
"Those sort of people you always have a bit of a relationship with as you respect that sort of thing being a young player.
"He has had a similar journey. He had heaps of injuries through his junior career and he is a star of the game now.
"He has had his own adversity and so have I, so I sort of look up to him in that regard."
Not only does Papenhuyzen still look up to Tedesco, the Storm fullback remains in contact with his Roosters counterpart.
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"We are mates, we chat, but we won't be mates on the weekend," Papenhuyzen said.
"After the game we will sit down and talk ... we are enemies on the weekend now.
"I have got to do lots of video on him and make sure we shut him down because he is very dangerous."
The Storm enter the preliminary final high on confidence following a 32-0 thumping of the Eels on Saturday night, but Papenhuyzen knows they will need to raise their game if they are to keep their season alive.
"They [the Roosters] are flying at the moment and we will need to be better than we were against Parra," he said.
"We need to keep stepping up from here, as I keep being told by all the senior boys so we need to take our game to the next level."
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