The furniture removalist Robbo picks first each week

Isaac Liu returns to Trent Robinson's team sheet this week. He's the first picked, says Cooper Cronk.

You wouldn't know it.

Liu's absence over the past fortnight with a broken finger has barely rated a mention, fitting given this affable Kiwi's own economy with words, no social media accounts required.

But through 139 games for the Roosters he has become part of the furniture at Bondi, the most reliable of customers at the game's most glamorous club.

Again fitting, given Liu lugged lounges and tables as a shy New Zealand teen when rugby league was no certainty as a career, let alone getting the bills paid on time.

Saturday's clash with Wests Tigers brings Liu back to where it all started almost a decade ago.

And afterwards the 28-year-old will break bread with his 'Sydney parents' Joe and Liz, the Tigers fans that took Liu in when he first arrived in Sin City, and gave him a gig when his early NRL contracts amounted to less than $15,000 a season.

He's basically the prototype for a middle forward.

Cooper CronkOn Isaac Liu

"I came down to Sydney after finishing up school footy with Keebra Park in 2009," Liu begins.

"I started out with the Tigers through their connection to Keebra and the club helped put me up with them.

"There's Joe and Liz, and their kids Victor, Lachlan, Jacinta and Layla. They're a Lebanese family, just good, beautiful, respectful people.

"I catch them every Monday or Sunday for dinner. I'll them every week pretty much and that was my first really strong connection here in Sydney as a kid.

"I stayed with them until I moved to the Roosters and as soon as I got a few games with the Chooks I moved out.

"They're still Tigers fans but every time I put on the Chooks jersey they're rooting for me, it's beautiful."

It wasn't until a Tigers-Roosters trial in 2011 that Liu landed on the Tricolours' radar.

Then-recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan couldn't believe his luck, or that Liu was unable to crack the joint-venture's under 20s team.

So Liu would earn a crust shifting furniture with Joe to some of the Eastern Suburbs' most exclusive enclaves, otherwise known as Roosters heartland.

"Never moved a piano thankfully, dodged that one," Liu grins.

"We actually delivered to a few good names there too I think, some celebrities.

"You'd see the name on the couch, I can't remember a specific one now.

"But you'd see a name and say 'I know them' turn up to a real nice place and drop off a sofa or something.

"There were plenty of lounges up and down staircases, tables up and down hills.

"There are some mansions out there I still can't believe."

Back-breaking work, but no surprise to those at the Roosters who have seen the Auckland product steadily earn 12 Test caps for Samoa and New Zealand.

Nor his rise as one of the club's in-house 'performance leaders', a senior group who help dictate "the way we want to play here".

"Ice [Liu] is very much front and centre of all that," Cronk says.

"Honestly in the time that I've been here, Isaac Liu is probably the first name on the team sheet of a Trent Robinson footy team because of the things that he does.

"He's basically the prototype for a middle forward.

"He's 100 and something kilos, he's got good aggressive defence and the same when he carries the football but he's also got a passing ability.

"You roll all three of those things up and it creates momentum through the middle third because players are worried about whether he's going to step, pass or take you into contact.

"He's got a skillset not too many forwards have in terms of his passing game and his footwork.

"He might be only getting recognition externally with his Test matches for New Zealand but I promise you, he's very highly valued here at the Roosters."

Still, club officials joke about the luck journos need to get a word out of Liu when he's required for media duties.

Teammates too, that they need to lean in when he has something to say.

"It takes a lot," Liu says.

"It takes a lot for myself to get up there and address the boys about what jobs need to be done, details of the game.

"That's a huge thing for me, it's something that has evolved. It is something Robbo has mentioned, leadership roles being key and I've taken that on board.

"If I can be a leader myself, I try and take things from Coops, from Boyd [Cordner], all the senior guys, I'm trying to improve myself and the team.

"It's huge for me. Still not something that comes all that easily but I've definitely improved there."