Moses Mbye leans back on a plastic seat in the Concord Oval grandstand and talks about how he leaned on two people in particular when he was offered the captaincy of Wests Tigers.
One was Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend, a childhood friend who had captained his own club. The other was Benji Marshall.
“I reached out to Benji when first discussions started about potentially being captain,” Mbye said.
“I actually had a conversation with Friendy at the Roosters. Him and Benj have been two people who have been influential in terms of my footy career for two completely different reasons. Benji was the guy everyone wanted to be and play like. With Friendy, really close family friends, grew up together and spent a lot of time together.
“With Benji, for me he is a captain because he is an influencer. He is a really big influence around the club and the community.
“Benji is at the stage of his career and life where he is a real role model for the game. He has been a role model for the kids that are playing now.
“They have come up with him as an idol. You talk to people from many walks of life and he has had those experiences — he is a bloke who ticks all those boxes.
“He is a father, a captain, he is a premiership winner, he is an international, he has been across two different codes. Whatever you do in the game, he has done it.”
Apparently, he is also a confidant, at least where Mbye is concerned.
“He rung me and said Madge (coach Michael Maguire) has asked me to be captain,” Marshall said.
“He said: ‘I want to talk to you about it, I don’t know whether I want to accept the job or not, I just want to ring you and get your thoughts and if I did accept the job, would you be able to help me and (would I) have yours and Robbie’s (Farah) support.
“I said: ‘Honestly, you are selling yourself short, you’re better than you think, this is what I think you are as a leader’. I told him everything I thought.
“I said: ‘Put it this way, bro, you won’t have to change, Robbie has been captain before, I have been captain before, we have Russell Packer, Chris Lawrence and Elijah Taylor’.
“I told him, you are going to have people around you that if you feel like you need help, we will take the load off you.
“You don’t need to change. Madge always says it, you are only as strong as your leadership group. With Moses, he is out in front leading it.
“He didn’t have to call me. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been bothered.
“He wanted to be sure he had our support. We were on the phone for about an hour.”
It’s history now that Mbye ultimately accepted the offer, his decision to bounce the idea off Marshall and other members of the club’s leadership team providing a snapshot of why Maguire opted for the 25-year-old.
Mbye is polite and thoughtful. He is a young father and relatively green as a fullback, having made a permanent switch to the No 1 jersey only last year, firstly at Canterbury and then when he made the mid-season move to the Tigers.
Yet he is also a difference-maker on the field and a standard-setter off it. “The thing is, a lot of people have said he is young and inexperienced,” Marshall said. “But honestly if you see the way he composes himself not just on the field but off it, he is pretty impressive. What I see is that you know you are a good leader when you look around and people are following you.
“I don’t think he understands that when he talks everyone listens. His voice is really driving the players and driving standards.
“The thing I like the most is he doesn’t enjoy shit standards. He doesn’t walk past things that he doesn’t like. He drives standards really hard. I think that is a big reason why he is captain.”
The respect is clearly mutual.
“When Benji speaks, people listen because of who he is and what he has done,” Mbye said.
“Benji has a knack of being able to take the piss out of someone but also bring them back up. He is a big part of who we are here.
“I am sure I will be talking to him a lot during the year.”