Bulldogs back-rower Adam Elliott had a long phone call with close mate Josh Reynolds ahead of the popular five-eighth announcing his move to Wests Tigers from 2018 – which was in part so Reynolds could save his mate from getting teary in front of teammates.
Reynolds' eventual decision to take up a four-year deal at the Tigers following months of speculation was tough to take for many, not least the man himself who is Belmore through and through, nor the passionate blue and white fans amongst whom he is beloved.
But Reynolds is also very close to many players at the club, including his former housemate Elliott who credits Reynolds heavily for helping him in his journey to a regular first grade starting berth.
"He called me before he announced it to the team, we're pretty close mates and he wanted to make sure I knew before he announced it as a group so I didn't bust out into tears," Elliott revealed after his two-try heroics in a tight 16-10 win over Canberra at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
"I said to him straight away, not many people will have the influence that he will have when he does announce it to the team. I don't say that lightly."
Elliott freely admits the 40 minute phone call was an emotional one.
"He's been a big part of me so far making it this far in my career and also as a person off the field; I've spent a lot of time with him," Elliott said.
"It would be hard to imagine the last three years without being mates with 'Grubby' off the field. I know that's going to continue, no matter where he goes that's probably the most important thing to me but it was emotional to find out he wasn't going to be playing with this side.
"I'm off contract as well at the moment. It's a time for me to be sorting my own stuff out but it was still hard to hear."
Elliott is currently in negotiations with the club regarding an extension.
"It's going pretty solidly but we're in the early part of the season for me and the more footy I play the more confident I'm going to be," he added.
Elliott added it is rare to be able to seriously want to play for someone other than yourself while you're on the field but such is Reynolds' influence, there was a genuine desire to want to earn a win for him in his first match after the deal was announced – particularly given Reynolds himself had to leave the field injured.
"When someone like Josh announces something like that to the team and you know how much it means to him, you're motivated by it and you do want to go out there and play for him and add a bit of spark like he does each week," he said.