Rhys Graham was only a few words into playing tribute to his former teammate, Johnboy Quinlin, when grief interfered with his diction.
The Barbarians president and captain was absorbing the fact that Quinlin - 22 and Armidale born and bred - had died suddenly of natural causes on Monday.
"He come to our club back in 2017 as a 20-year-old," Graham said, "and we pretty well [much] adopted him as a son. He'd never played rugby before, so that was a big thing for him ... he was well-respected by everyone in the club."
Quinlin came from a rugby league background, having played for the Narwan Eels, but Graham said he was a natural rugby union player - and wore the No 10. While at Barbarians, he kept playing for the Eels and then linked with the Rams.
Graham said: "Like a lot of Aboriginal players, they can pick up anything as soon as they learn the basics for it. Johnboy was no exception. He was just phenomenal.
"He hit like a freight train as well. He defended better than most of our forwards."
Graham said Quinlin often provided the first graders with the spark they needed when injected into games off the bench, while one of his fondest memories of him related to the 2018 season.
In the preliminary final against the Blues that year, Quinlin slotted a field goal that booked Barbarians a grand final spot. He then booted the penalty goal that sunk Robb College in the finale.
"I think that's one thing [memory] that will stick," Graham said, adding: "Don't get me wrong: he is a first-grade player, for sure. But we kept him in second grade a fair bit just because we had a better chance of winning the premiership [with him in it]."
Quinlin was also well-respected by rival clubs, Graham said, with a number contacting the Baa-Baas president to pass on their condolences.
Robb College's 2019 co-captain Andy Leathem told Graham that Quinlin never did anything on the field that left a negative impression on him.
Quinlin's family released a statement, on behalf of his brother, Phillip, his partner, Lucy, his grandfather, Phillip, his niece, Annie, and his brother's partner, Amie:
"Johnboy was such a lovable person. He was everything that everyone wanted to be around and get to know. He was a loving partner, brother, son, grandson, uncle and friend. He impacted so many people's lives.
"When Nan passed away he was the rock of the family, the one that kept us together. He loved his little niece Annie so much; he was the light of her life, and she was his.
"There are no words to describe how much he will be missed. We love him, and he will be forever in our hearts."