Skilful North Queensland Toyota Cowboys forward John Asiata has paid tribute to former clubmate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves as the pair prepare to face each other this weekend in Round 21 National Rugby League action.

Currently in his fourth season as a North Queensland Toyota Cowboy, Asiata, 24, was a former Roosters under-20s player and remembers well being taken under the wing of the New Zealand hardman.

Waerea-Hargreaves, 28, is the forward leader at the Roosters, and Asiata remembers the influence that the 20-Test Kiwi international had on him early in his career.

“He definitely played that mentoring role for me when I was down there and he had a big influence on me early in my career, in the under-20s,” Asiata said of Waerea-Hargreaves.

“He helped me out diet-wise and with training, so it will be good to come up against him this weekend.

“On the field, it’s a battle there in the middle and off the field we’re mates.

“He’s a great player who just goes hard. No matter who comes at him, if they put him down, he gets back up and goes again. He just does his job, and really well.”

Asiata – who until last weekend against the Warriors was a regular starting middle forward – said the Roosters’ big pack were a great challenge for a Cowboys side chasing a fifth straight win.

“Every pack we come up against presents a different challenge, and the Roosters will be no different,” he said. “They’ve got a bit of skill there in the middle and they’ve got some big bodies there too.”

Asiata and his fellow Cowboys take on Waerea-Hargreaves’s Roosters at Allianz Stadium from 7.30pm on Saturday 29 July.