The biggest smile I ever saw on Nathan Merritt's face was when I arranged for him to host Snoop Dogg at an impromptu drop-in to the block in Redfern.
When Snoop recognised him and said something like, ''Don't they call you The Freak cos you been scoring all them touchdowns,'' his smile was so big and bright he could have powered a small town.
In a way, that's what Nathan has done for most of his career: used his energy to keep a light of hope glowing for South Sydney fans. Even in the takeover year in 2006, when Souths came motherless last, Nathan miraculously topped the NRL try-scorers' list - a feat he repeated in 2011.
However, just a few days ago the brightness of that smile for Snoop Dogg dimmed compared to the one he sported when he arrived at the Blues camp, a freshly selected State of Origin rookie at the age of 30.
There is simply not a more deserving servant to the game to receive that honour than Nathan Merritt, who is closing in fast on both Bernie Wearing's try-scoring record and Bob McCarthy's record for most games for South Sydney.
He will stand tall and represent his state the way he has always represented his club, with everything he has.
Nathan represents the bridge from the struggling Souths of yesteryear to the competitive and hard-nosed club we are now. He was there when the oldest club in the game trained at the broken down Erskineville Oval; he was there when we moved into our new facilities at Redfern.
He was among the first to put up his hand when Souths started to reconnect with the community in 2007. Tirelessly visiting schools throughout our district and spreading the word on nutrition and the importance of schooling. A long time ago he took on the mantle of role model and week in, week out he proves he is worthy of that title.
I have long said that if NSW want to break the Queensland death hold on State of Origin, karma dictates they need at least one Souths player. (I say that sort of stuff about everything. One red eye, one green eye, it's how I view the world!).
Here is that opportunity, and it's only right that Nathan Merritt gets the chance to be that player.
I can see in the future that the likes of Adam Reynolds, John Sutton, Dylan Walker and others may flood the NSW ranks, but for now, thanks possibly to the Dalai Lama, Nathan Merritt has turned that light of hope on for South Sydney members and fans and the long-suffering fans of the NSW Blues.
Here's hoping a little bit of Merro magic can break the drought.