Billy Slater has taken the constant boos throughout his grand final farewell as a mark of grudging respect from Sydney fans after Cameron Smith fumed over the reception for his retiring teammate.
Both Smith and Storm coach Craig Bellamy were unimpressed with the chorus of vitriol directed at Slater with his every touch in Melbourne's 21-6 loss to the Roosters.
Despite bowing out in the eyes of most as the greatest fullback the game has ever seen, Slater was booed before kick-off when his image flashed on the big screen, right throughout the game and then again during a full-time interview.
Smith agreed when it was put to him that Slater's reception from the 82,688-strong crowd was "disrespectful".
"Yeah, I don't think there is any other way to say that," Smith said.
"He's only ever been someone good for the game, I think he deserved a bit more respect than that."
Smith not impressed with Slater booing
But speaking after the last of his 319 games for Melbourne, Slater took the boos as a compliment, one he's come to expect at ANZ Stadium after 16 years of success with Melbourne and Queensland.
"I find they probably do respect me, and that's probably why they do it," Slater said.
"I'm playing against their team. They probably see me as a threat and that's just what sport's about.
"You create a thick skin in this game, in any game really. I'm not the only player that's been booed and I've come to expect being booed at this stadium to be honest.
"That's just the way it goes, they're pretty passionate about their team and obviously their team performed really well tonight. You just get on with things, that sort of stuff doesn't affect me anymore."
Slater plans to still be involved with the Storm and the game at some level next year along with his burgeoning media career and Slater Thoroughbreds – the horsebreeding business he has started with wife Nicole.
Having beaten a shoulder charge ban to get himself on the paddock, Slater conceded a marathon four-day preparation for the biggest judiciary hearing in years had left him "really fatigued and drained" at the start of grand final week.
Slater paused for a particularly poignant moment before being given a guard of honour by Melbourne teammates, reflecting that "this was the last time that I was going to be out on the field in a pair of footy boots".
Match Highlights: Roosters v Storm
Smith meanwhile found himself savouring moments right throughout the lead-up to the decider, the last occasion he took the field with the great mate he has known since their formative years with Norths Devils.
"There have been a couple of moments this week (where I) was taking time to realise it is the last time I am here with Billy," Smith said.
"At the captain's run yesterday, that was the last time we ever trained together. Going out on the bus, that was the last time we travelled to a game together.
"I have been taking those last little moments in. It has been an emotional week knowing this time has been coming."