PATRICK Dangerfield didn't just change clubs last year. In many ways, he might have changed the way players change clubs. In a traumatic season, Dangerfield set a new standard.
Dangerfield's last season for Adelaide was perhaps his best. He won the club's best and fairest for the first time, and became a three-time All Australian after a brilliant season in the midfield.
Saving the best 'til last: Dangerfield aced his final season in Adelaide colours. Picture: AFL Media
As well as the honours, he won many plaudits. From a long way out, it appeared likely to be his final season with the Crows. A move to Geelong, near his hometown of Moggs Creek, was on the horizon.
Each week on regular radio stints he fronted up to the questions about his future. At every opportunity he answered as best and politely as he could without giving much away but understanding the intense interest in his decision.
Patrick Dangerfield's honour roll
|154 games with Adelaide||163 goals|
|All Australian 2012, 2013, 2015||97 career Brownlow votes|
|Crows best and fairest 2015||Traded to Geelong at end of 2015 season|
Where other high profile players before Dangerfield had struggled to cope when out of contract and linked to shifting clubs, the 25-year-old's manager Paul Connors said he had handled the year seamlessly.
It is no surprise he has been voted as the third best player in the competition in the AFL Players' Top 50, brought to you by Mars.
"He just did it with aplomb," Connors told AFL.com.au.
"He focused on playing the best possible footy he could for the Adelaide Football Club and didn't let any outside distractions take his mind away from the most important job, which was every weekend running out for Adelaide."
Aside from his own circumstances, Dangerfield and the Crows battled far bigger and more significant challenges last season.
The sudden death of Adelaide coach Phil Walsh in July left the club and its players reeling, and Connors said it was only through this period that Dangerfield struggled.
"That probably put everything into perspective that family is really important," Connors said.
"The best thing you can do, which he did, was being able to play really good football and not stop. It was a blueprint for others, if they're ever in that situation, to possibly follow how he did it."
Dangerfield leaves Magpies in his wake during the 2016 NAB Challenge. Picture: AFL Media
In Dangerfield the Crows lost a leader and premier player of the competition. He averaged 27 disposals last year and kicked 21 goals in 23 games. Only a few months into his stint at Simonds Stadium, Geelong already knows what it will get from Dangerfield this season and beyond.
"What we see of Paddy is a guy who has come in and is not going to waste time," Cats captain Joel Selwood said recently.
"He's going to make Steven Motlop better, he's going to make Jackson Thurlow better, he's here to make us all better and he wants to get better himself.
"We sort of knew that but when he comes to the footy club and he does what he has done so far, we in the room are more excited about it than Paddy is."
The AFL Players' Top 50 is compiled with the support of the AFL Players' Association.