Storm hooker Harry Grant is disappointed he won't be lining up against Jake Friend on Friday night after the pair combined to take down NSW in last year's State of Origin series.
Grant had only ever watched Friend from afar until he spent a month in camp with his fellow Maroons debutant in November before they combined to help upset the Blues in the Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.
In a twist, Friend was often playing second fiddle to Cameron Smith at representative level – a man Grant has been tasked with replacing this season after returning from a knee injury in round five.
"Friendy was awesome to have around and learn off, it's sad to see him retire," Grant told NRL.com.
"I only had that four weeks in camp with him but the impression he left on me as a player and a person, he's a guy you wanted to play with every week.
"It's a shame he won't line up on Friday night but if you look back on his career he's done it all and it's a career not many guys get to live out."
Storm v Roosters - Round 6
Grant, who took last year's Telstra Premiership by storm during a 15-game stint at the Wests Tigers, has been named to come off the bench with Brandon Smith to start.
The livewire rake will line up against the Roosters for the first time in his NRL career in a clash that has seen six of the last nine games decided by three points or less, including three golden point finishes.
"I'm not sure which way 'Bellyache' is going to go with the hooker rotation down the track but Brandon and I have got a good relationship off the field and that only helps when we're on the field," Grant said.
"There's a lot of dummy halves who are having success in the game but for me it's about building my game and getting my fitness back so I can take those chances around the ruck while also building combinations with other players.
"I'm just enjoying playing footy again and in the NRL. I've waited a little while to get back but it's been worth the wait."
Grant was almost a non-starter after struggling to get through training last week with his knee but ended up churning out 55 minutes in his comeback game against the Bulldogs.
"I pulled up good, it was just the initial five minutes getting through with the knee and then I didn't really think about it too much after that," he said.
"I was a 'no' early in the week but the last two sessions I felt a lot better and more confident. It's a long season and I didn't want to rush it at this time of the year."