Cameron Smith and Richie McCaw share plenty in common, despite playing in codes formerly regarded as bitter rivals.
But it has emerged that the rugby and league legends are closer than anyone could have imagined.
Smith is expected to play his last game on Sunday, when the Melbourne Storm clash with the Penrith Panthers in Sydney's NRL grand final.
The 37-year-old Smith has played more than 500 first grade and representative games, the scheming hooker forging a reputation as perhaps the best player in league history.
But like McCaw, Smith has had his critics, and for similar reasons. McCaw – who retired after the 2015 World Cup - was blasted by opponents, who believed referees allowed him to bend the rules too much. Smith is also accused of having too much influence over referees, allowing his teams unfair advantages.
Smith's father Wayne has revealed McCaw proved a significant mentor for Smith in recent seasons, and McCaw has been a key visitor to the Storm camp.
The pair initially met through Bart Campbell, McCaw's old manager who is a part-owner of the Melbourne NRL club and a former chairman.
Wayne Smith told The Australian that McCaw had, in particular, helped his son work through the criticism. While Cameron Smith appears to brush off criticism, his father said it did hurt him, and McCaw may have been a key player in helping him deal with that.
It is also an indicator, perhaps, of how criticism of McCaw hurt the great All Black leader more than he let show.
"He (Cameron Smith) pushes barriers, absolutely he does," said Wayne of his famous son.
"That is what winners do. Even to the point last year when they were really giving it to him, Richie McCaw spoke to him.
"He said don't worry about it, they did the same to him. Richie just said 'keep your head down and keep doing what you do'."
The Australian described McCaw as a "regular in the Storm camp in recent years. Before one grand final qualifier, he attended the captain's run, addressed the team. He has also presented Kiwi Kenny Bromwich with his 150th game jersey.
In typical fashion, McCaw declined to talk about what he has told Smith.
The Australian described McCaw, who played a record 148 tests, as "a God-like figure among All Blacks supporters but reviled by fans of their opponents for the way he pushed the boundaries".
"Both he and Smith are serial winners as well, which tends to grate on the players and fans they leave devastated."
And in a brutal assessment, Wayne Smith believes his son's legacy is likely to be affected by the critics.
"People are swayed by influencers," he said.
"That is the way it is. That is society today. That's what people do. They don't worry about yesterday and they don't care about tomorrow. It is the now."