IT was a blistering hot Wollongong day in November, the kind where you could fry an egg in the middle of Crown Street.
Down at WIN Stadium, the Dragons were getting put through the type of preseason paces that make you question whether you ever want to pull a boot on again.
One young Dragon - a junior star with tonnes of potential, but not necessarily engine to go with it - was so far off the pace in shuttle runs that most of the squad had finished and were looking for their beach towels.
Media types standing in the shade wondered if this lone runner might collapse. Perhaps wondering the same thing, Tariq Sims, his own work done, went over and started jogging alongside him.
Shoulder to shoulder, he talked the young bloke through to the end. It was a small thing, but it says a lot about the type of guy Sims is.
It also says a whole lot about what the club's losing after telling him he was free to look elsewhere, and it goes way beyond what he produces on game day.
Identity and culture are two of the most-overused terms in rugby league discourse. The call on Sims though, leads you to question both.
In a season with its share of hurdles, Anthony Griffin has fronted up well to media questioning, from tired questions about his sacking at Penrith, to the barbecue that derailed his side's campaign.
He's answered questions thoroughly, honestly and largely without obfuscation.
Asked about Sims following his side's final-round loss to the Rabbitohs was the first time he's seemed indecisive.
He described the discussions as being between Sims' "management" and the club's "management" and that "they" (the club) had told Sims he was free to look elsewhere.
It was bringing layers to what, in reality, is a simple conversation. Sims looks after his affairs without a manager. It could have been taken out of Griffin's hands - the club with a history of that - but he's otherwise got what he wanted on the recruitment front this year.
Paul McGregor wasn't even allowed to pick his own 17 each week. Would the club have even entertained letting him import the PR dumpster fire that is Israel Folau?
It's hard to imagine another coach signing Andrew McCullough, Josh McGuire and Gerard Beale in the same season.
Individually, there was a rationale to each decision. However, place them in a series, and a pattern emerges.
It is the pattern of decisions that fans and observers have found cause to question this week.
The club made a similar call on skipper and two-time reigning Player of the Year Cam McInnes in the preseason.
Both he and Sims are the heart and soul guys. Neither made outrageous contract demands, they simply wanted clarity on their futures.
Sims basically wanted the same opportunity the club afforded McCullough - a decent long-term deal that secures a future at the back end of his career.
It didn't come with a sense of entitlement. In fact, what separates Sims so distinctly from many of his NRL peers is a complete and utter lack of one.
It was bound to raise the ire of fans, but tough decisions are necessary in professional sport. They're worth the pain if it's pulling an organisation in a coherent direction.
Some of the decisions made this season just don't square with each other, even if you take a purely pragmatic look at them.
Sims (31), an incumbent Origin series winner who has never provided a single off-field headache, is surplus to requirements.
Folau, 32 and without a game of rugby league to his name in 11 years, is a recruitment target.
Does he have less to offer than Francis Molo, Jaydn Su'A and George Burgess - the latter to test the notion of "career-saving" hip surgery?
Whatever your specific thoughts on the Jack de Belin saga - there's been more than enough discussion on that - it's hard to pinpoint exactly what aspect of it warranted a five-year contract extension and pay increase.
He was also considered for stand-in captaincy this year despite his involvement in barbecue-gate.
You can find a justification or defence for each decision in isolation; you won't get a consensus on any of them. In combination though, it starts to become a pretty ordinary read.
What makes it particularly concerning is that the club is at a critical juncture when it comes to those intangibles; culture and identity
Jayden Sullivan, Talatau Amone, Tyrell Sloan and a few coming behind them, are as exciting as any junior class to come through the joint venture.
McGuire was part of a similar class at Broncos a decade ago with the likes of McCullough, Beale and Ben Hunt.
A fortnight ago Kickoff asked him if there were similarities between that contingent and the Steelers crew currently on the march. His answer was food for thought.
"Our young guys are in a similar situation having come through and won a lot of the junior stuff," McGuire said.
"I was lucky enough when myself Macca and the rest of us came through at the Broncos they had Darren Lockyer, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker, Tonie Carroll... all these pretty established football players."
Who will be that to Sullivan, Amone and Sloan?
You can expect their talent to come with all the accompaniments of youth: energy and enthusiasm, but also inconsistency and mistakes; sometimes telling ones.
It's going to require patience and understanding from a fanbase not necessarily known for possessing much of either. The young guys coming through are going to be more vulnerable to criticism than they would be at just about any other club.
As Steelers products, it'll be heightened. St George loyalists will be more than willing to put the boot in without feeling 'disloyal' to their club. It's the way of a joint venture.
It helps that they're phenomenal young men, but they're going to need strong leaders to bring them through.
They'll need the type of veteran who'll come up alongside them when the heat seems too much, and make sure they don't endure the pain alone.
We can only hope they find one.