Wests Tigers players found out little more than an hour before kick-off against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday that the mother of their captain Robbie Farah had lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.
Coach Tim Sheens had to talk distressed players through the news of Sonia Farah's death before the match.
And with Farah grieving with his family, stand-in captain Benji Marshall led an emotional side out onto Leichhardt Oval and shed tears on the field during the minute's silence.
The Tigers lost 42-28 and had their seven-match winning streak ended, but the day's other events loomed larger.
Farah sent a text to Marshall, Sheens and other players an hour and a half before kick-off, and Sheens described it as one of the most difficult days of his coaching career.
"I think they're feeling it right now ... more so now than before the game. I know the minute's silence really upset a few of them," said Sheens with players too upset to talk post-match.
"To talk about the game today seems a waste of time. It's something I'm not particularly interested in.
"It's a close club and the team will be there for Rob and his family.
"Beau (Ryan) spoke really well on behalf of the players ... that we were tight and would stick together and get Robbie through it.
"It's about Robbie this week."
Farah had played the game of his career last Wednesday night, making 63 tackles in a heroic performance for NSW in their win over Queensland.
He was only told after the match that his mother had been admitted to hospital and did not attend.
On Wednesday morning he will attend his mother's funeral after he was by her side in hospital when she passed away at the age of 63.
Sonia Farah's battle with cancer had been a source of inspiration for her son this season, ever since he was forced to fly back to Australia from England during last year's Four Nations tournament upon hearing of her diagnosis.
Wests Tigers chief executive Steve Humphreys said Farah and the rest of the team would be given all the time and support they need.
"He'll let us know how he wants to respond, we'll catch up with him over the next couple of days and let him determine when he's ready to come back," said Humphreys, who admitted the news could have an impact on the Tigers' season.
"It's certainly going to have a significant effect.
"With respect, we always knew Sonia's illness would have this impact this year but how that manifests itself we'll have to wait and see. I'm confident the boys and Robbie will respond in a positive way but at the end of the day they're human beings so we'll have to take it one day at a time."
Also on the field on Sunday, Gold Coast won their fourth match from the past five games when they beat Penrith 36-18.
Canterbury claimed second place on the ladder with Friday night's 28-20 win over St George Illawarra, and are joined by Brisbane (12-0 losers to North Queensland), South Sydney and Cronulla (victors over Parramatta and Warriors respectively) on 20 points.
Manly can join them if they overcome outright ladder-leaders Melbourne on Monday night.