He was a player that was let go by Roosters coach Brian Smith, or one that slipped through the cracks, however you look at it – but for Parramatta Eels centre Cheyse Blair, he has been waiting for this clash all season.
With Blair playing some good footy for the Eels, the opportunity may have never arisen, had he not left the Roosters at the end of last year – Blair cannot wait to get out there, and face his former team.
“This is the game I’ve been looking forward to all year,” Blair said. “As soon as I played NRL, I checked to see when we were playing the Roosters.
“I saw it was the end of the year and just hoped I was still in first grade. I’m fired up. I want to stick it up them and shove it in their face.
“I’ve still got a job to do for Parramatta, so I can’t go stupid.
“But at the same time I’m out to show them what they missed out on by not playing me.”
Blair was always destined to play rugby league as a young kid, with the then 15-year old playing in a schoolboys tournament, that saw the Roosters recruit him.
They were that invested in him, that not only was he made the highest paid youngster at that time at the club – but the Roosters flew him from Tweed Heads to Sydney every week, just to play in the Harold Matts and SG Ball junior systems, for the Roosters.
Despite all the promise as a youngster however, Blair was never rewarded with the chance to play for the Roosters in first-grade, and with 12 months left on his contract, he made the decision to join the Eels.
Blair will be the first to admit that he was getting frustrated with coach Smith and the club, as to why he was not given the chance to play first-grade in Bondi.
“Apparently there were some big wraps on me as a junior, but they didn’t like my attitude,” Blair said.
“They thought I didn’t care. And I’ll admit it – there were times I probably didn’t care. Me and Smithy probably didn’t get along the best. I was training with the NRL squad the whole time then going back to play Toyota Cup every weekend.
“It was frustrating. I got named 18th man a couple of times.
“That’s as close as you can get, but I got no closer.”
It came in rather uncanny circumstances, with Blair feeling the ill-effects of Mad Monday, before being told of the Eels interest in him.
“It was the day after Mad Monday and I was pretty hung-over,” he recalled. “My manager phoned and said there was an opportunity to go to Parra, but I didn’t think he was serious.
“Steve Kearney wanted to meet me there and then, so I dragged myself there. I was still meant to be at the Roosters this year, but I think they were happy to see me gone.
“Smithy had pretty much already said I was free to look elsewhere.
“Now I’ve played almost every NRL game this year, but I can’t wait for this one.”