NRL GRAND FINAL 2018
The relationship between Latrell Mitchell and Will Chambers has evolved all the way from pitched battle to something of a rugby league love-in ahead of Friday night's All-Stars clash.
Mitchell says he followed his heart by skipping the World Club Challenge with the Sydney Roosters so he could represent the Indigenous All-Stars against New Zealand Maori in Melbourne.
It also ensured the NSW and Australian star would team up with fellow-centre and Melbourne Storm veteran Chambers.
Mitchell had much the better of their personal clash in the concluding two games of the 2018 Origin series.
He also claimed bragging rights in the NRL grand final, so much so that Chambers threw the ball into his face in frustration after being tackled into an advertising hoarding.
But both men insist it never got personal, with the pair breaking the ice over a beer after an NRL game in Adelaide in the midst of the Origin series.
"I just had to feel my way into having a yarn, getting out of my comfort zone and going and saying hello to him," Mitchell told reporters on Monday.
"It was good. Leave what we have on the field and just have a beer off it.
"He's been the best for a decade now and I just want to beat those players."
Chambers said it was a great boost for the Indigenous team to have Mitchell in the squad, rather than playing for the Roosters against Wigan in England later on the weekend.
"At the end of the day we're only footy players; we're not here to kill each other," he said.
"You pump yourself up, you want to be up against the guy who's probably the best centre in the game at the moment.
"It's a challenge for me when I play against him but it's a challenge for everyone.
"He's a big athletic kid and he's doing some great things for the game."
Mitchell said Roosters coach Trent Robinson was understandably disappointed but fully supportive of his decision to prioritise the All-Stars game over the WCC.
"It was hard to see the boys go but I had to follow my heart and do what I had to do," he said, while noting it would have been more difficult to stand up and make the same decision a couple of years ago.
"I had a voice back then but now I've achieved what I've achieved in the game and I'll continue to do so," he said.
"I just think I need to start standing up and making my own decisions and doing what's right for me to get me through my career."
Mitchell is the only Roosters player in the Indigenous All-Stars lineup.