Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga spoke for thousands of rugby league fans when he said the criticism levelled at Ben Hunt was often driven ''because of the size of his wage".
Even his own St George Illawarra fans have often found it easy to turn on their $6 million man, but Hunt remains a must with Meninga when it comes to wearing the green and gold at the end of the season.
Hunt himself said he was disappointed with his finish to the NRL season and would learn how to cope with the post-Origin period better if given the chance to play for Queensland again.
Meninga has always admired Hunt for his on-field ability and how he copes with the intense scrutiny of his game.
Hunt is expected to start at hooker - Reed Mahoney is also in the squad - and possibly spend time in the halves on Friday night when the Prime Minister's XIII take on Fiji.
Hunt will play for the PM's XIII and then for the Kangaroos in their two Tests against New Zealand and Tonga. While Damien Cook will wear the No.9, and Daly Cherry-Evans will be joined by either Luke Keary or Cameron Munster in the halves, Hunt offers so much in the No. 14.
"That's why Queensland keep picking him, that's why I keep picking him. He's just great to be around, he's a great leader, he's a senior player and very willing with his time with the juniors as well. He plays in an important position for the Dragons, he did for the Broncos, but the No.7 is only as good as his footy team."
Hunt came under fire for dropping a kick in the loss to the New Zealand Warriors during Magic Round - it evoked memories of his infamous grand final bobble in 2015 - and then hounded for being rested after the Origin series when the Dragons desperately needed all hands on deck for the run to the finals.
"My back end of the season was pretty ordinary," Hunt said.
"I feel down about it, to be honest. I need to find a way to change that coming out of Origin. If I play that next year I need to come back and go to another level rather than step back. I wish I knew the answer. It's about getting back to working hard, trying to change a few things in our game plan and doing more preparation. That's all I can do."
Hunt said he had learned to cope with the negative comments that often followed him and acknowledged being one of the best-paid players in the NRL made him an easy target.
"It comes with the territory and you have to understand you take that on when you get a decent pay packet," Hunt said.
"Especially being a half, if you win the game you usually get the raps, but if you lose you'll cop it as well. You have to take the good with the bad.
''I've learned to handle it and while I don't enjoy it, it's good in a way because it can take the heat off my team if we're not going well.
"There have been several years now I've had to learn how to do that, I've had some highs but definitely some lows. You cop it at those times and work out different ways to handle it and only listen to people you trust."
As for a parting message for the Red V faithful and why they should be optimistic about 2020, Hunt said: "We've got a quality roster, you look at blokes in our team, there are plenty of representative players and young guys on the cusp.
"We'll change a few things in the pre-season and work out a plan going forward. We've still the got team and players to do it."
- Christian Nicolussi was a guest of the NRL for the Prime Minister's XIII in Fiji.
- SMH/The Age