Support for recovering Melbourne prop Robbie Kearns has come from an unlikely source -"rival" front-rower Jason Stevens.
Kearns has a shoulder injury and is battling to play again before retiring. He is in doubt for Melbourne's knockout NRL semi-final against North Queensland at Aussie Stadium on Saturday.
But Stevens, who was forced to announce his retirement this year while sidelined with a shoulder injury, hoped Kearns wouldn't suffer his fate - despite the Storm prop calling him a "grub".
The pair made headlines earlier this season when Stevens accused Kearns of using a grapple tackle on him. The Storm prop infamously responded with: "There are clean players and there are grubby players. He (Stevens) is a bit of a grub."
However, Stevens, 32, on Tuesday revealed it was "all a joke" and hoped the Melbourne enforcer didn't retire on the injury list.
"We had a laugh over that (grub quote). It was tongue in cheek," Stevens said.
The Cronulla prop - who missed the Sharks' short-lived finals campaign after dislocating his shoulder three weeks ago - sympathised with Kearns.
"I do feel for the bloke. He's been one of the Trojans of the competition," he said.
"He's been an outstanding player. He's a good friend and to have longevity like him says a lot about him."
Stevens hoped Kearns would return for a title run after missing out on the Storm's 1999 premiership due to injury.
"Because he missed out on the Melbourne Storm grand final it might be harder for him if he's not part of the series," he said.
"But he's a balanced bloke and I know he will put it in perspective."