If it was up to Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk wouldn't play again after the 2017 NRL season.
In his 14th finals series since his 2002 debut, Storm skipper Smith should be feeling right at home ahead of yet another title tilt.
Instead, Smith admits there is a looming sense of dread that halfback and good mate Cronk will be leaving Melbourne and link with a Sydney club.
Cronk's future is up in the air after he announced this year he would leave the Storm at season's end to be with his fiancee in Sydney.
As much as Smith cherishes Cronk in the NRL, he hoped he never saw his beloved teammate of 14 seasons again after the 2017 finals series.
"In a way, I hope he doesn't play," Smith told PlayersVoice website.
"I just can't picture him in another jersey, lining up against me.
"Coops' impending departure really hit me as the finals got closer, that realisation that we only had a small handful of games left together.
"I can't imagine what will go through my mind if he signs with a Sydney club next year and plays against us.
"It might happen, I guess. (But) it will be one of the strangest things I'll ever have to face on a footy field, I reckon."
Smith and Cronk. Pic: Supplied
Smith - a veteran of a record 42 State of Origins - said it always felt weird playing against Storm teammates for Queensland but described the thought of lining up against Cronk as "completely different".
He said it would be hard to ignore the special bond Cronk and veteran fullback Billy Slater had forged during Storm's dominance.
"The relationship between Coops, Billy (Slater) and I goes back so far that I really don't know what to think about next year," Smith said.
"What we have achieved together has been special not only for us, but for the whole game in general.
"I don't mean that in an arrogant way.
"There have been plenty of outstanding players at the Storm outside of Coops, Billy and me.
"But Coops and I have played more than 300 games for the one club, and Billy would have been there too if not for the bad injury run he had.
"We've also represented Queensland and Australia together.
"We all lived it together. And now a big part of it is almost over."