"He's just a pure footballer"
For the six months after he had finished school Cooper Cronk bummed a lift with Cameron Smith from his home in Runcorn in Brisbane's southern suburbs to get to training at Norths Devils on the other side of town and never once did Smith forget to pick him up.
"He loves cars – and I don't – so we probably talked about cars more than anything," Cronk tells NRL.com.
The Maroons No.7 estimates that through their decade as dummy-half and first receiver for the Storm, Maroons and Kangaroos that Smith has thrown "at least a million" passes and that only a handful have been anything less than perfect.
Unlike those who have been bestowed the honour before him Smith's eventual induction as a rugby league Immortal won't be accompanied by a snazzy highlight reel backed by some beat-heavy track, yet there are thousands of rugby league's finest moments with his fingerprints all over them.
Save for a golden-point field goal at Brookvale a couple of years ago, a jubilant Smith being raised high above his teammates in the euphoria of victory is hard vision to find; a game-changing 40/20 just doesn't resonate the same way as the years pass no matter its importance in the context of a game.
On Wednesday night Cameron Smith becomes the most capped player in State of Origin history when he runs out onto rugby league's toughest arena for the 37th time but even he would be the first to admit that his standing amongst Queenslanders will likely never rival 'The King', Wally Lewis.
No, the mastery in the unassuming No.9 who has held the highest posts rugby league can offer a player is that his temperament and innate understanding of the game allows those around him create magical moments of their own.
"Obviously we've had some great players play for Queensland and play State of Origin in general. Darren Lockyer, Wally Lewis, Allan Langer come to mind and it's fitting for Cameron to hold the record now for most Origin games," says long-time Storm and Queensland teammate Billy Slater.
"Looking back on Cameron it's going to be hard to pinpoint why he was so good. The best way that I can describe it is that he just has so much time with the football in hands and he makes players around him more confident and better players.
"The scary thing is that he's not done yet and he's playing some of the best football that he's ever played."
Corey Parker's association with Smith goes back even further, to childhood visits to his grandparents house in Logan who lived two doors up from the Smiths and junior footy games when Cameron would play up an age.
No player in the game in Australia has played more games in the forwards than Parker and he has played alongside the greats of the modern era but says Smith is the smartest, toughest and best of them all.
"I believe he's the best player I've ever played with, and I've played with some good ones," Parker told NRL.com.
"He's smart, he's very smart. People ask you who is the toughest player you have ever played with and he is the toughest player I've played with.
"To play the position that he plays in the middle of the field for 80 minutes and to come up with the decisions and make the plays that he does is pretty special.
"Cameron is the epitome of a role model. He's done everything in the game, he's an absolute superstar and will go down as an Immortal I believe but you wouldn't think that.
"He's just a humble guy, a knockabout bloke, has no ego and it's a credit to himself and his parents and his family that he has turned out the way he has."
Maroons prop Nate Myles – who has played every one of his 29 Origins to date with Smith by his side – said cheekily that there is only one area in which the Queensland skipper could improve.
"The only way that Cameron Smith could get better is if he hit like Solomon Haumano. That's the only way he could get better," Myles said.
"He's a great man and phenomenal to be around. Phenomenal what he does for the players around him.
"I've always said that he's two plays ahead of most games he's in which is something scary."
For someone so influential he remains incredibly unaffected by his achievements but according to Cronk he is simply fulfilling a destiny that was somehow preordained.
"The best way I can describe Cameron is that he's just a pure footballer," Cronk says. "Loves it, lives it, breathes it and it shows in the way he plays the game and carries himself.
"He's going to get a lot of accolades for what he is about to achieve on Wednesday night and he deserves every single one of them."