Latrell Mitchell had been treated shabbily in recent contract talks, according to Wests Tigers skipper Moses Mbye, as he was simply a young father and footballer trying to consolidate his future.
And the player himself caused a stir on social media on Wednesday with a "take me back" post on Instagram with a photo of himself after the grand final.
Roosters teammates Angus Crichton and Sam Verrills replied with "Yes sir" and "how good" respectively.
It is unclear whether the meaning behind Mitchell's message is for him to be taken back to two short months ago when the Roosters became the first team since 1993 to win back-to-back premierships or whether it was a plea for the club to welcome him back into the fold.
Whether that future is the Wests Tigers or not, Mbye and teammate Luke Garner don't know. But as they delivered presents to children spending Christmas inside Liverpool Hospital, it brought home the value of family and good health.
"I think Latrell has been pretty harshly criticised," Mbye said of the Roosters' centre trying to sort out where he plays in 2020.
"He's young and because he's such a good player and done so much, people treat him like a 28 or 29-year-old when he's just 22.
"He's got a lot on his plate too with a family to look after… putting into perspective of having children and trying to get the ball going (career-wise) by having all these offers and this amount of money, when he's come from very humble beginnings.
"In saying that, if I was advising him I'd tell him to look after himself and I think he's done a really good job of handling the pressure and the criticism."
Garner, who knew Mitchell from their days in the Roosters lower grades, is comfortable for his club to be in the hunt for the Test and Origin outside back.
"At the Tigers we’re always looking for quality players, whether that’s Latrell or somebody else," Garner said.
"It would be exciting to have him but if that doesn’t happen, I’m sure we’ll move on and find another quality player.
"I’m sure that in these types of situations Latrell is just trying to slow things down and think it through. At the end of the day it is his career and his life – and that's the most important thing.
"Whatever makes him happy I’m sure he’ll do it and I hope he succeeds."
It's not just Mitchell who has been linked to the Tigers but also Sharks fullback Matt Moylan.
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"If they're available and you can get them, why wouldn't you? If I was running the team I'd be doing the same thing," Mbye said.
Specficially on Mitchell's characteristics, Mbye said the Taree product needed no introduction.
"His strike. He's only young but he brings a hell of a lot of experience. He's won two premierships and played games for his country and his state and his indigenous heritage," he said.
"So he's got a lot of experience in big games. And he's got experience from a strong-cultured team and club."