It's 1am and Josh Papalii is finally making his way out of the Canberra Stadium sheds.
The Canberra Raiders front-rower makes his way upstairs and heads for the exit. Everyone else is long gone.
Or so he thought. Standing on the other side of the glass doors is 10-year-old Ayden Jacobs, who Papalii has nicknamed "Googly". The fan that has become more like family.
Ayden had been waiting for hours just to see his hero again after the Raiders booked their ticket to the NRL grand final, delaying the family's trek home to Blacktown for hours.
"Their family was just sitting there, the last family left," Papalii said.
"They mean so much to me, they're special people in my life. For a young kid to sit in the cold and wait for his favourite player, it's definitely inspiring.
"Him and his family always come to as many games as they can. He is just a fan who has come to most of my games. He has got jerseys and put my last name on his jersey.
"I've known him since he was three and he is 10 now. He buys me presents on my birthday. Special moments like that capture me."
For that reason, the moment Papalii pulls his Raiders jersey off a coat hanger in the Sydney Olympic Park dressing rooms on Sunday night, he will see Ayden's face.
Then there is Bella, the avid Raiders fan who showed her heroes a game of football is just that. It is not the be all and end all, nor will it ever be.
Bella passed away in April, and Canberra players rallied together with a message: "Fly high angel, this year is for you".
Together they would sit on the edges of her bed with Bella donning her Raiders jersey, with a club cap and scarf near her feet, and light up her world.
While she will no longer be able to rush to the gate to give Papalii a big hug and tell him how well he played that day, her smile will never be far away.
All he needs to do is turn around and see her photo in his locker.
Because stuck on the walls of the locker are photos of children - both Papalii's and others - that inspire him to be better.
It is a timely reminder of how lucky he and his Raiders teammates are as they set their sights on the Sydney Roosters in the grand final.
"It's a reminder to me, when I think I'm doing it tough, they're doing it tougher," Papalii said.
"I dedicated this whole year to Bella, one of our closest friends and supporters who sadly passed away this year.
"My goal is, by the time of my last game ever, I want to have filled my locker up with photos of kids who inspire me and who have changed me in a way.
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"I want to try to fill it up by the time I'm done."
But it goes far beyond photos in Papalii's locker. From the day he met Ayden at a Queensland Maroons fan day at Moore Park seven years ago, this has been something more, something special.
How else does one describe the feeling Ayden had when Papalii and Blake Austin turned up at his birthday party in Sydney? Or Papalii inviting the Jacobs' parents to his wedding?
"I don't know how to describe it to you," Ben Jacobs said.
"One year Ayden goes, 'for my birthday, I want to invite Papa and Blake Austin to my birthday party'.
"I said 'mate, they're high-profile players, they probably won't come but if you want to send an invite I will do what it takes'.
A couple of weeks later we were just sitting at home watching the footy on a Friday night, and the phone went off, it was Josh saying him and Blake would make it to the party.
"From there, it has just blossomed. Ayden buys Josh a birthday present every year. Whatever Ayden wants to come up with, that's what he gets him. He does it every single year."
This year it was a $150 golf voucher, the year before it was $50 in a card. Before then, a tee-shirt.
Rest assured the Jacobs family will be there when Papalii looks to steer the Raiders to the club's first premiership triumph in 25 years.
To do so he must get the better of his Roosters counterpart Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. So there is no prize for guessing which question Papalii had been asked more than any other at the Raiders' open media session this week.
"The battle with Jared, is that what you were going to ask?" Papalii said with a grin.
Not this time. Papalii takes a break from grand final chat to have a laugh at his own expense when he fires a pass at Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad so the fullback can have his photo taken with a football.
The laser sharp Ricky Stuart-esque spiral was met with a joke about moving Papalii to the halves, but nah, "that was a lucky pass, man".
Then we get back to those who inspire him ahead of his first grand final appearance, one that made him stop and think about how special this opportunity is. One that made him stop and think about how special it is to have people like the Jacobs family in his corner.
"They've come to my games when I've been dropped and playing for Mounties. They're there on the sidelines cheering me on," Papalii said.
"Even when I'm done with my career, they're special kids who love footy and love the Raiders. I take that pretty personally.
"They're the kind of people you don't forget."
NRL GRAND FINAL
Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium, 7.30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Iosia Soliola 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine. Interchange: 14. Bailey Simonsson 15. Emre Guler 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Dunamis Lui. Reserves: 18. Sam Williams 19. Ryan Sutton 20. Siliva Havili 21. Sebastian Kris.
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Isaac Liu 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley. Interchange: 14. Angus Crichton 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Nat Butcher 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho. Reserves: 18. Lindsay Collins 19. Drew Hutchison 20. Jake Friend 21. Ryan Hall.