An incredible competitor up the middle and a loveable guy off it, Jeff Lima was a vital part of the Storm pack over the years.
Last Saturday the 35-year-old played his last NRL game and while it may have been in a Raiders jersey, it was fittingly against the team with which he played 96 of his 127 games for, including three consecutive grand finals.
Lima is now six days into retirement and is looking forward to life’s next chapter.
A big part of that will be centred around more time with his three daughters. The family is planning on staying in Canberra for at least the time being while his wife completes her Masters in IT.
As for Lima, he is lucky enough to know exactly what his next passion involves.
He is already involved with the Police-Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) in Canberra – a not-for-profit charity that delivers a broad range of youth-focused activities and programs.
The decision to go down this new career path is a personal one for Lima, who experienced troubles of his own growing up.
He hopes he can use the lessons he learned as a youngster to assist other kids who may be doing it tough.
“I have always wanted to work with troubled kids,” Lima said.
“Everyone deserves a second chance. I was offered a similar opportunity when I was younger which turned my life around.
“If we can also give these kids a second chance they might take up similar opportunities down the line.”
Storm fans will remember leave for his tough, uncompromising play. Never one to take a backwards step.
Storm was one of four clubs Lima played for during his nine seasons in the NRL, having also represented the Raiders, South Sydney and Wests Tigers.
Now that he has time to reflect on his career, it is those Melbourne days that he recalls most fondly.
“Those days are the best days of my career,” Lima said.
“Every other Melbourne guy that you ask who has been a part it, they say it is the best time they’ve had.
“That is the highlight of my career, the friends and the comradary I had with the boys that were down there.”
After playing one game during his first season in Melbourne in 2006, Lima soon became a mainstay in Craig Bellamy’s forward pack, playing a minimum of 20 games in each of his next four seasons with Storm.
Lima credits Bellamy for every one of those, believing that if it were not for the Storm master coach he would not have enjoyed the career he had.
“He was a father figure for us, I owe him everything to be honest,” Lima said.
“I’ve always taken on board what he said, ‘whether you’re a superstar or not, if you work hard, you’ll play in my team.’
“I’ve really listened to that, if you work hard in life the rewards are just around the corner.
“That is the respect I have for him, wherever I go I always text him, I have so much respect for him because he is a very good coach, a mentor and a great father figure for everyone as well.”
Lima says he still keeps in touch with his former teammates via the Old Boys ‘What’s App’ group – exchanged messages and checking in with what everyone is up to.
He still has his purple pride and will be watching on from the couch this Saturday as Cameron Smith runs out to break the NRL game’s record.
“He’s the best hooker I’ve ever played with,” Lima said.
“Whenever he is in your team you don’t think you can lose, you always think you’re going to win.
“That is the influence he has on you.”