As Mitchell Aubusson was asked to the stage to say his final farewell at the Jack Gibson Medal Awards Night, it was hard not to reflect on a legendary 15 year career for a man who is now etched in the Club's history as a legend.
While he stood on the stage and watched a highlight reel that showcased his career from his debut in 2007, right through to his 303rd record breaking NRL match, the reality became clear that this was his last time taking to the stage as a member of the NRL playing group.
Mitchell Aubusson Career Highlights
He remembered himself as a kid from Ballina playing park football that admired and supported the legendary Roosters teams from the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Unbeknownst to him, he would soon be a part of that journey, playing alongside members from those squads and beginning his first grade journey in the red, white and blue.
After being recruited by Club Legend Arthur Beetson as a youngster, Aubusson was dumbfounded that he would join a team that not only demanded greatness, but also his respect.
He played his junior football that exact way, knowing full well that in order to be a part of a great club that he would need to play great football.
Fast forward to the 2006 NSW Cup season and Aubusson would find himself playing a key role in the Roosters reserve grade team, the Newtown Jets.
That 2006 Jets team would go on to play in the 2006 NSW Cup Grand Final, where Aubusson lined up in the starting left centre position.
His form in 2006 and hard work in the 2007 pre-season would ultimately see him called up to make his NRL debut in Round 1 of the 2007 season, starting at five-eighth alongside halfback Josh Lewis.
Aubusson would play 17 first grade games in 2007 and would gain even more success the following season in 2008, lining up for 22 NRL games for the fourth placed Roosters.
While 2009 was a tough season for the Club, the 2010 season would be a particularly rewarding year for the playing group and Aubusson appeared to have found a new level in his first grade career.
He made the left edge second row spot his own and according to his former Captain Anthony Minichiello, found exactly where he belonged at the Roosters.
"Things changed for the Club in 2010 when we made the Grand Final, and Aubusson played a huge role in that," Minichiello said.
"He had such fast feet, his defence was unbelievable, and it makes you realise that everyone needs a Mitch Aubusson in their team."
Round 18, 2010 | Aubusson Calls Game
While it was a shorter season for Aubusson in 2011 due to injury, he would start the 2012 season at right centre and receive the Captaincy nod for the first time in his career in Round 1 against the Rabbitohs.
The Roosters would go on to win that game in what was a come-from-behind thriller, and Aubusson even played part in setting up Minichiello for the game winning try.
Steggles Play Of The Year 2012
In 2013, the Trent Robinson era began at the Sydney Roosters.
Aubusson recalls being at a crossroads in his career and unaware of which direction he wanted to take his football.
After receiving clear direction from Head Coach Trent Robinson on where he saw his future, Aubusson was rejuvenated in both his form and enthusiasm for the game.
He played a number of positions throughout the 2013 season and played in 26 games for the Roosters in their run to Aubusson's first of three NRL Premierships.
2014 and 2015 would again see Aubusson line-up for 26 Tricolours performances respectively, making a great name for himself as the Roosters most reliable player and willing to line-up wherever he was required in the 17-man squad.
2016 would see the Roosters miss the NRL finals series for the first time since the 2012 season, as a younger crop of players would roll through the Club and officially see Aubusson claim the veteran tag in the squad.
That tag would come with much success and responsibility for Mr Reliable, a responsibility that Aubusson would take on with both hands and set up three seasons of success to follow.
The Roosters 2017 campaign would kick off with Aubusson being asked to Captain the young NRL Nines squad that went on to shock the NRL world and claim their first title in Auckland.
Aubusson was the perfect fit for the job, and was a huge factor in the epic series.
Aubusson Talks Nines After Grand Final Win
The 2017 season would also see Aubusson selected in the NRL All Stars match for the first time in his career, while going on to captain the NSW Country side in the final City v Country match mid-season.
2018 and 2019 would see Aubusson play an integral role in the Roosters becoming back-to-back Premiers.
Head Coach Trent Robinson showed great praise for Aubusson at the Jack Gibson Medal Awards Night when recalling the role he played in the 2018 Grand Final.
Not knowing whether or not Cooper Cronk would line-up at halfback, Aubusson put his hand up to fill those shoes if he was needed.
He prepared in that position all week, knowing that his number may be called on the biggest day on the NRL calendar despite having never played the halfback position before.
Seeing that Cooper would have to go through a pre-match warm up before deciding whether or not he would take to the field, Aubusson shuffled back to the second row when the decision became final on the day of the game.
“I’ve never seen a player understand the honour that it is to be a rugby league player, and to represent a Club more than Mitchell Aubusson," Head Coach Trent Robinson said.
“He’s always understood that he’s a role model, that it’s a privilege to pull on a jersey and to run out for 306 games.
“He’s honoured that for every single game.”
"I'll be a Rooster Forever" - Mitchell Aubusson
2020 would see Mitchell Aubusson carve his name in the history books as not only a 300 Club player for the Roosters, but the most capped Rooster in history with 306 NRL appearances in total.
He scored a double in his 303rd match, the most fitting way to announce himself as the most capped Roosters player of all time.
With a heart full of pride and a Roosters career to savor, Aubusson addressed the Awards Night crowd for one last time at his final Club event as a member of the playing group.
He recalled himself as a young Rooster, which was a testament to how far he's come since his early days.
“I wanted to be the best footy player I could, and later on I wanted to be the best person I could," Aubusson said of himself as a young Rooster.
“I felt those two things went hand in hand.
“I’ve met some amazing people, played with some great players, been a part of some awesome teams.
“I’m so happy to stand here tonight, hold my head high and say I did my part in those teams.
“I’m forever grateful for what the Roosters taught me.
“I’ll be a Rooster forever, I can’t wait to see the next generation take to the field and I can’t wait to help out in some sort of way when that time rolls around for me.”
Classy finish as Raiders and Roosters farewell Aubusson