Competition - NRL
Round - Round 02
Teams – Raiders v Roosters
Date – 12th of March 2016
Venue – GIO Stadium, Canberra ACT
Photographer – Mark Nolan
Description –

When a 16-year-old Kane Evans first met Eloni Vunakece at a junior Fijian trial match he could tell straight away Vunakece adored rugby league.

Little did Evans know that eight years later the pair would be the one-two punch coming off the bench for the Roosters in the NRL.

It's just one reason as to why Evans is so excited to see his fellow Roosters rookies get a chance in first grade this season.

With Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves yet to feature this year, it has afforded the likes of Vunakece, Mitchell Frei and Abraham Papalii an opportunity in the NRL.

"[Vunakece's] always been known for hard work. When I first met him eight years ago when trialling for the under-16s Fijian team he was known for it. To see him persist and eventually make the NRL, it's crazy how far he has come," Evans told NRL.com.

"It's massive seeing Abraham perform on his debut too. These guys making their debuts are going to help us as a wider squad, especially our mentally.

"It's going to give them that much confidence to run amok on the field which is mad, no matter if they're playing NSW Cup or get called back up to first grade."

Despite the long-term benefits of the young Roosters getting first-grade experience, Evans is the first to admit how much he misses playing alongside Waerea-Hargreaves.

"I think if there's a prop I had to pick that I wanted to match the quality of, it would be Jared Waerea-Hargreaves," Evans said. 

"He plays long minutes and is powerful for his whole stint on the field. He's not sloppy in any areas.

"Jared is one of the pillars of this club. Ever since I've been here he has been the front-rower at the club. All of us young boys look up to him and it's massive to have him around.

"He has his own standards Jared and everyone tries to get to them because he's so good all the time in every area. I can't wait until he gets back."

Evans was disappointed too by the fact the Roosters have had to wait 10 days to back up from their first win of the season, against the Rabbitohs in Round 6.

"I can't wait to play Penrith. It's a shame we have had to wait until Monday to play them. I'm not a fan of Monday games, but we should be sweet. We only have the one win so far so it's nothing to get carried away about," Evans said.

"I want to try and play more at a high quality too – that's a goal. I've come a long way but I still have a lot of things in front of me.

"I feel like I'm stronger and fitter, even a bit faster, but I want to improve so I can play plenty of extra minutes."

This article originally featured on NRL.COM