As the latest group were inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, Brian McClennan watched on from his lounge in Auckland beaming with pride as three of his former players joined the exclusive club.
McClennan coached both Ruben Wiki and Stacey Jones in the Kiwis, and later went on to form a close bond with Danny Buderus during their time together at the Leeds Rhinos.
McClennan said it was a surreal experience to see the trio honoured alongside fellow player Craig Young and contributors Ray Warren, Peter Frilingos and JJ Giltinan.
"I had a fair bit to do with three of those guys and I was incredibly proud of Rubes, Stace and Bedsy, and it was great to see them get what they deserve," McClennan told NRL.com.
"The three of them are all very similar in some ways. I have been thinking about what makes them special, and the similarity between all three is that they are fiercely competitive.
"They had that in abundance, and it seemed to be more than what other guys had.
"They were also all selfless and would put the team first, and on top of that they are extremely humble."
McClennan said Jones and Wiki rank among the finest players he has ever seen, with both having played an integral role in his New Zealand side which rolled Australia 24-0 in the 2005 Tri-Nations final.
"Ruben and Stacey were the cornerstone of why the Kiwis were successful when I was there, and before and after that as well," McClennan told NRL.com.
"Everyone played their role in the 2005 Tri-Nations win with the Kiwis, but it's fair to say at the top of the list was Ruben and Stacey.
"They are easily in the top players I coached and it's 100 percent right that they went into the Hall of Fame together."'
Jones and Wiki continue to work together at the New Zealand Warriors, and this week the Little General labelled Wiki the ultimate leader.
"I reckon Ruben played his best footy, and you really loved playing alongside Ruben, when he was the leader and captain of the team," Jones said.
"He didn't say a lot but his actions did everything for him.
"That's why you thrived off Ruben… you knew Ruben wouldn't take a [backwards] step.
"When I made my [Kiwis] debut he had been in the team for a couple of years, so he was certainly one that took us under his wing."
Wiki punches out push-ups on Hall of Fame red carpet
Wiki said there was no doubt Jones made him a better player during their time together in the black jersey, and later with the Warriors at club level.
"You wanted to be the best decoy in the world [for Stacey], and I think I was one of those, just for Stace and to make him look good," Wiki joked.
"You just have to do right what's right by Stacey, he's the Little General for a reason."
With Mark Graham having been inducted last year, there are now three Kiwis in the Hall of Fame, but Jones is the only one to be included without having ever played for an Australian club.
Graham came to fame with the North Sydney Bears, while Wiki spent 12 seasons with the Canberra Raiders before playing his final four years with the Warriors.
"I'm certainly very proud that I spent pretty much all of my career here at the Warriors," Jones said.
"The Warriors have been a big part of my life, but also I look back at my junior clubs I played for – Ponsonby, Pt Chevalier, going to St Paul's College – all of those things add up."