STILL coming to terms with former mentor Paul Couch's shock death, Taylor Adams found some solace on the field for Collingwood on Saturday.
But when the final siren blew to end the Pies' narrow eight-point win over North Melbourne, raw emotions came flooding back for the 22-year-old.
Adams played alongside one of Couch's sons Joe in under-14s at St Joseph's College where they were coached by the much-loved Geelong star and 1989 Brownlow medallist.
"Dad gave me a call today and said he'd passed away … it's pretty tough for the whole footy community down in Geelong and obviously the Couch family," Adams said after starring in the Pies' win.
"So it was kind of nice going out there and just thinking about the game. It sort of takes your mind off it a little bit, but once you come off it's back to reality and it hits home pretty hard."
Adams said Couch had a profound impact on his football career with his sage advice and the time he devoted to young players.
"I've got got a few quotes that really stick in my mind and one of them was he said 'being a midfielder is the most luxurious place on the footy field', because we get first crack at it," he said.
"The thing about Couchy, I haven't probably seen him for three or four years but when he was coaching us he just had so much time for all the kids and everyone looked up to him and idolised him.
"So obviously it's sad for the family and our hearts go out to Joe and Tom, his two sons, and obviously his wife (Geraldine)."
Couch would no doubt have been proud of Adams' brilliant 26-disposal, two-goal performance on Saturday.
The promising onballer was simply outstanding from the moment he booted the game's opening goal with a scything low kick.
Adams' workrate was relentless despite soaring 38 degree temperatures and entering his third year at Collingwood, the former Giant looks primed to take another sizeable step forward this season.
Adams enjoyed a career-best year in 2015, averaging 27 touches in 18 games, but he knows every Magpies player has to step up again this season after two years finishing outside of finals.
RIP Couchy, a fantastic mentor for myself throughout my junior footy days. Thoughts are with Tom, Joe and the whole Couch family— Taylor Adams (@taylor_adams13) March 5, 2016
"There's little things that I'm always going to keep trying to improve on. My kicking was one that I've focused on for the last 24 months, and to kick two goals straight today was nice – a bit of reward for effort," he said.
"It was certainly hot out there and a lot of hard work. We did some things we didn't really like and probably didn't defend the way we wanted to again, but to get the win and to score (85 points) in a reduced amount of time was impressive."