They're the closest mates off the footy field, but on Sunday afternoon, Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell will line up opposing one another, just as they did in their NRL debuts.
The South Sydney superstars made their NRL debuts in the same clash - a Round 1, 2016 match between the Roosters and Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium, pitting an 18 year-old winger named Latrell against a 26 year-old debutant five-eighth, standing in for the suspended Luke Keary.
Walker got the chocolates in his first NRL game, securing a 42-16 season-opening victory, in the only year that's seen both foundation clubs miss the finals over the last decade.
The pair will reignite on opposite sides of the field on Sunday, as the duo run out in the Koori Knockout in Nowra. Mitchell is representing the Walgett Aboriginal Connection, while Walker has elected the Bunjalung Baygal Warriors as his side for the annual tournament.
The biggest absentee of the weekend has been Mitchell's reported rib cartilage injury, which he allegedly received pre-game and half-time pain-killing injections to manage during their preliminary final loss to the Penrith Panthers.
While Mal Meninga will have his heart in his mouth as his superstar left centre risks hurting himself a fortnight before the World Cup, the Rabbitohs are backing the pair's decision to play in the tournament.
“Absolutely we are,” CEO Blake Solly told The Daily Telegraph.
“We're really supportive of all our guys playing because it's a wonderful and important tournament for the Indigenous community.”
There's sure to be a few barbs and jabs traded through gritted grins as friend becomes foe, and the Rabbitohs' team mates turn rivals for the afternoon.
NRL confirm position on return of afternoon Grand Final
It would appear a return to afternoon grand finals is something a distance away from the NRL's radar.
Calls this week have exploded suggesting the grand final should be reverted back to its traditional afternoon timeslot.
Led by Matty Johns, the overwhelming public sentiment has suggested that a grand final far earlier in the day, despite the Monday public holiday in New South Wales and Queensland, would be the preference.
"I would love to see a day grand final return to the NRL," Johns told SEN Radio during the week.
“I think it's a better standard of football. In our game, you move the ball around a lot more and I just like the atmosphere of a daytime grand final."
The NRL grand final has been an evening affair for the best part of two decades. The first night grand final took place in 2001, with twilight deciders then played between 2008 and 2012, before returning to the Sunday 7:30pm timelost from 2013.
The NRL has never looked back in the last decade, however, the pressure of this week has drawn comment from Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys, who seemingly has no intention of changing it.
“At the end of the day, you've got to get the most eyeballs watching the grand final,” V'landys told The Daily Telegraph.
“Grand finals are a huge opportunity to promote the game and it's proven that more people watch sport at night.
“We need to maximise our audience with major events. You might get some casual fans who will become rusted-on fans.
"At this stage, there are no plans to change it.”
The NRL's biggest rival, the AFL, plays their grand final in the afternoon slot, starting at 2:30pm (AEST), however, the league has been under pressure for years to move to an evening grand final.
Origin weekend restructure reportedly set to stay confined
The NRL appears to be set to stick with its Friday 6pm timeslot for the foreseeable future.
Speculation has emerged in recent times that the competition were considering a switch for much of the season to play the early Friday game in a Sunday evening timeslot.
The 6pm game, while part of the Fox Sports broadcasting deal with the competition, has been something of a crowd killer for sp,e clubs, with people generally unable to attend the earlier game on Friday.
Excluding Magic Round, the Friday 6pm timeslot averaged 12,703 attendees per game in 2022, however, that average drops considerably once crowds of 16,212 and 18,395 are removed for a pair of Warriors' home games at the back end of the season.
Despite a reported proposal to remove the Friday 6pm game from the schedule more often than not, The Daily Telegraph are reporting that Fox Sports have no plans to give up the game.
They view it as a Friday night ratings winner, with viewers then sticking around for the later game which is also broadcast on Channel 9, instead of watching the free to air coverage as they may be more inclined to do without an earlier game almost immediately leading into a second game, which often shapes as a blockbuster in the prime time slot.
It's understood Fox Sports also view their Sunday package as optimal at the current time, with the Matty Johns show immediately following the conclusion of the 4pm game.
The network, in tandem with Channel 9, hold the NRL broadcast rights until at least the end of 2027, which could mean no changes to the Friday 6pm game will be made before then, although it's suggested that the timeslot could still be switched on Origin weekends.