Heading into his 17th NRL match, Bulldogs try-scoring ace Curtis Rona is preparing to face off for the first time against the club that cut him loose after a promising two-and-a-half year stint in their junior system.
The New Zealand-born, Perth-raised 22-year-old headed east from Western Australia to join the Roosters NYC squad in 2010, but moved to the Cowboys in 2013 after being deemed surplus to requirements by a Bondi club that was fairly well-stocked in the outside backs, with the likes of Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Joey Leilua in first grade and Tautau Moga and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on the way up.
Readying himself for his first meeting with the club in the NRL, Rona admitted it was disappointing to be let go by the club but is happy with the path he took that has led him to the Bulldogs as 2015's equal top try scorer, with 10 tries from nine games.
"It's a good club, it was a good place, good environment at the Roosters; it was tough because I'd been there for two and a half years and I had to open my eyes up and say 'people can't all stay at one club'," Rona said of his departure from Bondi.
"I was [disappointed] about it but moved on... I wouldn't be where I am today [otherwise] so I'm pretty happy where I am now."
Rona played with the likes of Dylan Napa, Kane Evans and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in his time with the Tricolours, and this Friday will line up against his old mates for the first time in the top grade.
"They were all good mates while I was at the Roosters," he said of the trio.
"They're quality players, and I know them really well... they were good guys, and always there whenever you needed a helping hand."