With the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership season officially launched on Thursday afternoon – the 16 club skippers side by side in Sydney's Circular Quay – an apparent trend growing within the competition's captaincy ranks became clear.
Considering the number of past Storm team-mates who rubbed shoulders as respective leaders of their clubs at the launch, it proved another example of why the Melbourne club has spent the past decade as one of the NRL's elite teams.
Taking the current Storm skipper into account, Cameron Smith was joined by four of his former teammates – Titans co-captain Nathan Friend, Dragons skipper Gareth Widdop, Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis and recently-appointed Vodafone Warriors skipper Ryan Hoffman.
They could soon be joined by Newcastle's Jeremy Smith, with the Knights due to name their captains for 2016 on Friday (new coach Nathan Brown has indicted Newcastle will have three captains).
For newest addition Hoffman, it's a credit to the Melbourne club and coach Craig Bellamy for keeping the squad to such high standards.
"All those players were entrusted with a leadership group responsibility and it's just good to see that it's transferred to when players do go to other clubs or do stay at Melbourne," Hoffman told NRL.com.
"I think with the high esteem that Melbourne holds its leaders in training and to be effective leaders it's good to see the leaders coming out in the NRL.
"Though for me personally it was never about going to another club so that I could be a captain, it was more so the circumstances that it happened."
On his promotion to Vodafone Warriors captain, Hoffman said Simon Mannering's decision to stand down as skipper was a valiant one considering he's carried the expectations of the club since the age of 24.
"I certainly feel for Simon. I could see what [the captaincy] did to him last year and he realised he had had enough of it. He wasn't enjoying it and therefore wasn't enjoying his football so it was brave by him to do what's best for the team," Hoffman said.
"For me personally it's certainly an honour to be entrusted with the responsibility of captaining a one team country.
"I'm confident in how I'm going to lead the boys and how I'm going to handle the responsibility. I'm 32 so I have maturity on my side and hopefully I can carry that forward."
With Mannering captaining the team for the final time in the Vodafone Warriors' 10-46 loss to the Dragons last weekend, Hoffman takes over the reins now with an eye towards improving dramatically before round one.
As names like Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke combined officially for the first time against the Red V, Hoffman said name value means nothing without winning.
"They're great names and certainly very talented players but that doesn't equate to results. Results come down to actions down on the field and that's been our focus so far this year," he said.
"We're not worried about what the outcomes may be, we're more worried about the processes. We didn't turn up with the right attitude [against the Dragons].
"We didn't turn up to work hard and we had a bit of a wake-up call and a kick up the backside. It's something we needed and something I'm glad happened in a trial."
The Vodafone Warriors open their 2016 campaign against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday, March 5 (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
Appropriately enough Hoffman will be leading the Vodafone Warriors for the first time in the same area where he started playing rugby league with the Campbelltown Collegians.
- This article was first published on NRL.com