Family tragedy rules Rooster out of Souths clash
A heartbroken Mitch Aubusson is mourning the sudden death of his father Brian, 60, who played an integral part in his football career.
Aubusson is in Ballina with family, including brother and former NRL player James, who represented the Roosters and Melbourne Storm, and friends after Brian died on May 14.
He will miss Friday night's massive match against neighbourhood arch rivals South Sydney to attend Brian's funeral in Ballina on Friday morning.
The death of Brian, who was a fire station commander senior instructor in Ballina, has left family, work mates and the local community "shocked and saddened". He was just two weeks from retirement.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson has been in constant contact with Aubusson to monitor his wellbeing.
Former NSW forward Angus Crichton will replace Aubusson, who has played in 24 derbies against the Rabbitohs, in the backrow for the match at Bankwest Stadium.
"Everything we know and love about life ... caring and looking after our families is most important,'' Robinson said. "It supersedes anything about sport.
"Mitch needs to spend time with family and friends, mourn Brian and then he will come back to us when he's ready.
"Brian was a big part in Mitch's footy career and 'Aubo' used to head back up to Ballina when he could.
"They have always been a close family and a private family.
"Brian was pretty close to retirement up there in the fire service. They have been really supportive of 'Aubo' and the family up there."
Robinson believes Aubusson will return to Sydney after the funeral and prepare to play against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium in round four.
"We all know 'Aubo' and what kind of man he is," Robinson said. "He will come back next week after the funeral and get back into footy again.
"He will either drive back down on the weekend or Monday or Tuesday next week.
"'Aubo' is everything we want in a player and a person at our club. He represents the values that we aspire to.
"We judge our values on Aubo's - that is what he means to us.
"Mitch is one of the rare people in rugby league where their values supersede anybody else in the club.
"Very rarely does a player do that but 'Aubo' supersedes us all when it comes to how we should act and behave as a Rooster."
Brian was an impressive rugby league and rugby union player.
In his final year of school in Sydney, he was invited to a training camp to vie for selection in the undefeated 1977-78 Australian Schoolboys rugby union tour of Europe.
That side included the Ella brothers, Wally Lewis, Tony Melrose, Michael Hawker and Michael O'Connor.
In 2007, when Mitch, 19, and James, 20, made their NRL debuts, Brian, a Canterbury fan, was overwhelmed.
"I've barracked for the Bulldogs since North Sydney were thrown out of the comp, so I prefer to be objective rather than subjective,'' he told the Northern Star.
"Both are good footballers, but it's more important to us that they are good blokes."
Aubusson, 32, who has played 291 NRL games for the Roosters, will retire after this season following 14 seasons with the Roosters.
Originally published as Family tragedy rules Rooster out of Souths clash