It was the start of a long sayonara by one of New Zealand rugby's nice guys.
All Blacks legend Kieran Read announced his cushy move to Japan after this year's Rugby World Cup like someone facing the dentist with a sore tooth: it's uncomfortable but gotta be done.
Now, the 33-year-old hopes to knuckle down and just "focus on the footy". There's yet another Crusaders title to defend and a third-straight world cup to win.
Deep in the red-and-black bowels of Crusaders headquarters - Rugby Park in Christchurch, where larger-than-life photos flaunt the franchise's unparalleled success - everyone paid tribute to "Reado" today. Shag, Razor, big Steve Tew.
Reado squirmed under the cameras' glare as the three wise men marveled at the legendary Number 8's play – the crunching tackles, line-out guile, and loping snipes down the channels. Remember that off-load to his great mate Richie for a five-pointer against the Saffers in Wellington?
But they also talked about Reado the man. A respected team-mate, leader of men.
"All the boys love him," All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said.
And as much as the array of on-field plaudits – the two Rugby World Cup wins, three Super Rugby trophies, 2013 World Rugby Player of Year, dominant All Blacks captain – that seemed to count for even more for the seemingly-humble dad-of-three.
He chose Japan because it's closer to home than Europe. And no doubt the two-year salary too.
But he also admitted that they play less rugby, and his body which is now enduring its 13th professional season probably can't take much more battering.
His Crusaders coach Scott Robertson joked that Read has been an "end of season specialist" for them in recent years.
And while he paid tribute to Read's high rugby IQ and leadership skills, he also stressed that he's seen the Papakura-born kid grow into "not just a great rugby player but a great man".
After the press conference, there were a few more media commitments: some media outlets wanted their one-on-one interviews outside in the Canterbury sun.
As the tripods and lights were being set up, Hansen ducked out the side gates and you got the feeling that Reado wouldn't be far behind him.