The hardest part is accepting the injury - McGrath shows sympathy for stricken Leavy
They spent most of their working days together, the darkness of winter slowly ceding to spring's promise of brighter days ahead.
Luke McGrath and Dan Leavy watched from the sidelines as Ireland's Grand Slam defence weakened, all the while strengthening themselves for renewal.
Eyes firmly focused on achieving full fitness, towards the recess of their minds the knowledge that Leinster's title charge loomed large. Then Japan.
Yesterday morning, McGrath sat before us knowing that only he can make that journey now.
Perspective, if it were needed, as the scrum-half zipped back into form and the rudest of health.
"It is a very odd, bizarre mood here this morning, if I'm being honest," admitted McGrath.
The previous day, he and a few of the other former schoolfriends in Leinster called over to their mate's house.
Liverpool's late winner prompted a rare smile from their stricken colleague on a bleak weekend.
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"That was the only good thing. He's a big Liverpool fan. He watched that goal go in the end, he was happy.
"But he's gutted, I was absolutely gutted for him, the extent of the injury, he has a long spell out ahead of him.
"He's very down at the moment and it's important for us as a team to support him as much as we can in this difficult time for him.
"He'll have little short-term goals during that, however long it is, six or nine months, whatever it is, that's the kind of challenge that awaits him.
"But there's such good staff here, the rehab guys are brilliant, they'll take him through what's needed, it's important we try and stay positive with him as much as we can."
A crude reminder that, even without a World Cup target, cruel fate can land her blow at any moment.
"It is such a tough game when you're talking about injuries. I know I obviously had those eight weeks out and it's a very difficult time, every player wants to be out there playing and it's very hard to watch at times from the sidelines.
"So yeah, it is a bit of a stark reminder when you do get injured but you just have to look after yourself as best you can and fingers crossed, you don't get injured.
"It's such a significant injury that happened to Dan. From my point of view whenever a player gets injured you want to know when you can get back.
"And then you do as much rehab as possible, set yourself short-term goals like when you're back running, when you're back training and things like that.
"Obviously you do have a World Cup in the back of your mind if you do get a long-term injury but I think that's just part and parcel of the game and injuries do happen. You have to be able to get used to the idea of rehab.
"That's the hardest part about it, just accepting it. Even talking to Dan yesterday, he's talking about being out of the game for a long time.
"It's easy to say now but in a few months down the line, when he still has months left to go, that will be the challenge for him.
"That's why I'm saying a close-knit group needs to be very positive with him and say, 'keep going, keep the head down'.
"It's very hard to be positive with him at the moment, just because he's obviously looking at the World Cup and things like that.
"But he's a very positive guy himself and hopefully that will help him through it."
Robbie Henshaw, Devin Toner and Jonathan Sexton may all return this week if passed fit but Rory O'Loughlin's hamstring issue will sideline him, while Rhys Ruddock (neck) and Jamison Gibson-Park (HIA) are doubts for Saturday's RDS date with Benetton.