Whenever the Karuah Roos' halfback and club president Daniel Evans was in the sheds before a rugby league game, all he had to do was look at his prop forward Ben Langdon to feel reassured.
"When you saw him pull on a jersey, you felt safe, you felt good," said Mr Evans. "You'd think, 'Benny's playing today, we're all right today'."
That sense of reassurance Mr Langdon brought not just to his footy team, but also to his family and community has gone.
The 26-year-old died after a single-vehicle crash early Friday morning at Balickera, north of Raymond Terrace. Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.
Mr Langdon's death has not just shocked the communities of Karuah and Raymond Terrace, where he grew up, but it has prompted them to turn grief into care for his partner, Amani Ping, and their two daughters, Nyah, whose third birthday is on Monday, and one-year-old Avayah.
Just one day after a gofund me account was established to help Mr Langdon's family, more than $29,000 had been donated.
"We're in a small community, and no one's done so well that they have large amounts of money, but everyone has chipped in," said Mr Evans. "That reflects how much of an impact he's had on people, and how much of a tragedy this is."
A member of the Langdon family said in an email how Ben and Amani were high school sweethearts. Amani Ping recalled how she had enrolled in the same guitar lessons as Ben, not because she wanted to learn the instrument but she was in love with him. In 2019, they were engaged and planned to marry next year.
More than being a teammate, Mr Langdon was a close friend of Mr Evans. As teenagers, they caught the bus together to Hunter Sports High School at Gateshead. Mr Langdon had been selected because of his rugby league skills. Mr Evans said Mr Langdon was also a representative player in Indigenous teams.
"Tenacious, ferocious, competitive," was how Mr Evans described his friend's on-field character. "He was an extremely fair player but also an intimidator.
"He wasn't overly big, definitely not big for a front rower. It was his heart and his mindset that made him big."
Off the field, Mr Evans said, Mr Langdon was "so humble and caring".
"As gentle as they come, and he had the most unique smile," Mr Evans said. "Everyone who knows him knew that smile.
"People throw around statements, calling people 'great', but I truly believe he was a great person.
"He was one of the best, second to none."
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