If anyone on the planet had their reasons to hate rugby league because of the pain it has dealt him and his family, it's Wests Magpies legend Tommy Raudonikis.
The first anniversary of his grandson Jake Kedzile's death in a country game is approaching and the pain in Raudonikis' voice is obvious when he is asked how could he remain loyal to a sport that has brought him and his family such terrible grief.
Last April, Jake, 15 and a member of the Sawtell Panthers under-16s, had his life support turned off after his head struck an opponent's knee during a match near Coffs Harbour.
But at a time when Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon is lying in a hospital bed in an induced coma after a spinal injury, and the possible long-term impact of the head knocks is being debated in the news, the 63-year-old has no trouble defending the code he's devoted his life to.
"It's meant to test us sometimes and I tell people what happened to that lad was an awful accident . . . what do you say?" said Raudonikis.
"It can be upsetting to a lot of people, as it was to my daughter. His anniversary will be this Easter but, look, it's a game we love.
"I don't want people to get dirty on the game because [while] these things happen, they happen very few and far between. It's a contact sport but I say to people 'let your kiddies play to become men and, believe it or not, it's a safe game'.
"If anybody should be dirty on the game it should be my daughter [Corryn]. She's still suffering but, God love her, she's not dirty on rugby league."
Raudonikis wished McKinnon his best, but said an incident that occurred only moments before he answered the phone proved that even everyday life was fraught with danger.
"Its a crazy world," he said. "I'm [in a car on my way] to a function and we were probably a few seconds away from a car smash. How we missed these people we still don't know? They were in the wrong but we could've been gone. Every day is a different story."
Raudonikis will join his fellow Wests legends Les Boyd, John Dorahy, Ray Brown and their coach Roy Masters on a panel at Wests Ashfield on Friday for the Magpies Heritage night to recall, on the eve of Sunday's match against Manly, the blood and fury of the famed Silvertails-Fibros era.
It's a time Tommy described as special because of the memories and life-long friendships it forged.
"With Roy Masters it was something special," said Raudonikis. "He made us believe we were the underdog and that everybody was against us. He really taught us about class warfare. I believed it, but I didn't need much motivation because I was silly enough anyway.
"All the working class got behind us because we showed them . . . we went in with no money . . . and showed you could be a winner by having a go.That was a time when everyone wanted to play for Western Suburbs because we were tough and we were hard. We were violent.
"And we were very close. If ever I was going into a war I would've loved to have gone into battle with [the Fibros]. They were a very special breed."