A new era kicked off for the Newcastle Knights this week under rookie head coach Adam O'Brien, but a familiar face was on hand to ensure the transition was as smooth as possible.
Club stalwart John Thomas is back for his 30th season of being in the right place at the right time, tending to the every need of the men in red and blue.
As weary players gasp for breath after each activity of pre-season training, "Thommo" and head trainer Jamie Williams are on the scene with trays of iced squirt bottles.
When the session is over, and players are stretching in the shade, the support staff are bustling around, collecting the array of equipment that has been left behind.
Before home games, Thomas is the man players seek out to organise tickets for family and friends. When they are on the road, he helps load the bus and distributes menus so everyone can pre-order restaurant meals.
First appointed as team manager of Newcastle's Harold Matthews (under-15) squad in 1991, Thomas juggled a handful of roles until 2002, when he received a phone call from head coach Michael Hagan asking if he was interested in managing the first-grade team.
It's been a full-time job for the 75-year-old ever since.
As former Knights coach Rick Stone once said of Thomas: "He's like Radar O'Reilly in MASH, he's just one step ahead of most people and gets the jobs done that need to get done . . . [he's] a bloke who has put his heart and soul into this club."
The only staff member who has been on deck for longer is octogenarian gear steward Neville Allan, who has been involved with the Knights since their 1988 foundation season in a variety of positions.
Both have been honoured with life membership.
Thomas has been a rock for hundreds of players over the decades and O'Brien - his 11th head coach - was well aware of his reputation before arriving in Newcastle, having received glowing reviews from informed sources.
O'Brien estimated that no club in the NRL would have "a more experienced group of men to handle logistics".
"Good to have around the club, those fellas," O'Brien added.
Despite the change in coaches since the departure of Nathan Brown, Thomas correctly assumed he would be required for the first day of pre-season training.
"There was never a discussion or anything," he said. "I just turned up again."
A former publican turned coalminer, Thomas was named Newcastle's clubman of the year at the 2018 presentation dinner. "The motto I work by is: 'What can I do for the Knights? Not, what can the the Knights do for me?'" he said.
All good things, however, eventually come to an end and "JT" accepts that one day the full-time siren will sound.
"The time's coming when they'll probably say I should pull the pin," he said.
"But I won't be disappointed or anything like that. I'll just be thankful for what they've given me over the last 30 years."
The feeling, without doubt, is mutual.