He was one of the toughest, most fearsome players to ever pull on a Canberra Raiders jersey.
Menacing front-rower John Lomax would stare down any opponent and knock them senseless with a shoulder charge so hard their grandkids would feel it.
But the one adversary he struggled to face like no other was his close friend's life-threatening battle with cancer.
The moment a nervous Lomax finally built up the courage to visit Quentin Pongia, his former teammate made one thing clear.
The late Raiders great wasn't interested in talking about himself - he just wanted to talk about the good times.
Of those there were plenty, like the time two of rugby league's most menacing forwards were too "shit scared" to go into a bathroom at their share house for three weeks because of a spider.
Or like the time 'Q' did what nobody else would dare even contemplate by changing the channel on Mal Meninga's radio from country music to rhythm and blues.
This Great 80s series has been focused on telling the tales of the men behind Canberra's charge to their first premiership. But this week, we delve into a tough as nails partnership that extended the Raiders' golden era just a little bit longer.
Lomax visited Pongia in his last month Down Under before he went back to his native New Zealand, where he succumbed to bowel cancer last week.
"When I caught up with him, I did say to him 'mate, I didn't know how to handle coming to see you given the state you're in'," Lomax said.
"He just said 'mate, I'm just glad to see you. I don't want to talk about myself, I want to talk about the good times we had when we went on tour and when we played footy together, I'm just happy to see you'.
"He didn't want any sympathy from anyone, he just wanted to be around the boys and talk about the good times."
The good times saw these two men plucked out of the New Zealand Maori side by a man named Tim Sheens in his desperate attempt to fill the void left by a brick with eyes.
Glenn Lazarus' exit coincided with Canberra's one-year finals exile. In desperate need of mongrel, Sheens found Pongia and Lomax, who soon became one of the most feared front-row pairings rugby league has ever seen, helping the Raiders on the road to the 1994 title.
But even then, one spider was enough to leave a few big Kiwis terrified.
"We got a house together in Greenway, out in Tuggeranong, together with Sean [Hoppe]," Lomax said.
"We used to have three toilets in the house, and I had never been to a house that had three toilets before, being from New Zealand. There was an en suite upstairs, another bathroom upstairs with a shower, but there was one downstairs we would normally go and do the basic stuff in.
"I remember there was a huntsman in there, and I think one of the boys went in and touched it and said 'have you seen the size of the thing'?
"I don't think we went down there for another three weeks, we were all shit scared. Three big Kiwi boys who were too shit scared to go back down there."
As it turns out, a spider is far more fearsome than a man walking the path to rugby league immortality.
"We used to work out at Deakin swimming pool, and it was always Mal's radio on there," Lomax said.
"The Aussie boys, they liked to listen to country music. We'd go in there and they'd be listening to the cricket, with New Zealand getting thrashed by Australia, or they'd be listening to country music.
"Q goes in there, grabs Mal's radio and changes the channel, and puts on R&B, a bit of rhythm and blues. I'm going 'mate, what are you doing? That's Mal's radio'.
"He's like 'nah f**k that, I want to listen to music I can relate to'. That's the sort of temperament he had about himself. That is always something I will remember about the bloke.
"He treated blokes with respect, but expected people to respect him as well."
Rest assured this man earned their respect. Lomax says Pongia was the standard-bearer. He still remembers looking down the defensive line and seeing his inspirational teammate bellow: "C'mon Johnny, let's smash these blokes."
He'd do the same in the pre-game warm-ups when Sheens would split his side up for a backs versus forwards activity.
"Q would come out and bash blokes, Tim was always a bit worried. He'd say 'take it easy Q, we want to make sure we've still got 17 blokes to take to the field with'," Lomax said.
"It used to be backs against the forwards, and I know half the backs used to say 'I want to be in the forwards today'."
One of those backs was Raiders half and modern day coach Ricky Stuart, who says there was something about Pongia that always made any playmaker - on his side at least - feel at ease.
"He is the toughest person I ever played the game with, and he was certainly respected for that toughness. He was a guy we all wanted in the team," Stuart said.
"He was a genuinely solid mate, and that's what made Quentin. When you had Quentin as a mate, you had a mate for life."