IF anyone is about entitled to have mixed emotions about Dominic Young's departure from the Newcastle Knights, it's Krystian Mapapalangi.
On the one hand, Young's decision to sign a four-season deal with the Sydney Roosters has created a vacancy on the end of Newcastle's backline, and a potential opportunity for 21-year-old Mapapalangi.
On the other hand, Mapapalangi has lost his personal chef.
"He's my old roomie," Mapapalangi explained to the Newcastle Herald.
"We lived together up until he moved out to go to the Roosters. Very laidback. And he's a very good cook. So I'm missing that.
"But I wish Dom all the best with his journey."
Mapapalangi said another English import, former Huddersfield utility back Will Pryce, has since moved into Young's room and fortunately he, too, has brought with him some culinary expertise.
"We've got a good connection," he said. "We've just clicked since he came out to Australia.
"I messaged him a bit before he came over, and explained the living situation, and he was keen to move in. We're getting on well."
While the versatile Pryce is being considered by Knights coach Adam O'Brien as a potential five-eighth, centre or fullback, Mapapalangi is one of a number of candidates to fill the void left behind by Young on Newcastle's right edge, along with Enari Tuala and former Penrith flanker Tom Jenkins.
The young tyro made his NRL debut late in the 2022 season, appearing in two first-grade games, only to suffer complications last year with a shoulder injury that has now required two bouts of reconstructive surgery.
Mapapalangi explained that initially he had two screws inserted in his shoulder to help re-attach ligaments, only to "snap the screws in half with my first run" in his comeback game.
After spending basically a full season on the sidelines, he is intent on making up for lost time.
"It was the first time I've missed a lot of football through injury," he said.
"I've always been pretty healthy otherwise. So it was pretty tough.
"It was obviously upsetting, watching games when I just wanted to be out there with the boys, but at least the team was doing well, so the vibe was good, and that helped a lot.
"But the shoulder feels good now, a lot better than the first time I had it done, and I feel like I want to prove something this year.
"My goal is to play some consistent footy, in the top grade, and show what I'm capable of."
Like almost every player, Mapapalangi said he is willing to play "wherever the coach wants me to", but admits he is still serving his apprenticeship as a winger.
The presence of Origin stars Dane Gagai and Bradman Best means he is likely to have to bide his time waiting for a shot at his preferred centre role.
"Gags has been great," the Concord-Burwood Wolves junior said.
"He's always offering help and advice.
"I ask him a lot of questions, especially about defensive movements.
"I just try to pick his brain, and who better to learn off than someone who is one of the best players in the world in his position?"