OF ALL the big-name coaches who shaped Chris Judd's storied career, it is a low-profile assistant to whom the retiring West Coast and Carlton champion feels most indebted.
As he announced his AFL farewell after 279 games, a premiership and two Brownlow Medals, Judd made a point of thanking two men in particular.
One was Blues rehab co-ordinator Mark Homewood, the other a long-time coach, Rob Wiley.
Wiley was Mick Malthouse's sidekick during his dual premiership tenure in Perth, and stayed on during the Ken Judge and John Worsfold eras.
The 60-year-old helped mould Judd into a superstar after he was recruited by West Coast with pick No.3 in the 2001 NAB AFL Draft. Wiley finished left the Eagles at the end of 2006, the year Judd captained West Coast to the premiership.
But the pair reunited in October 2012, when Wiley was lured by Malthouse to be the Blues' director of coaching and development.
"He's probably been my strongest influence over my footy career. He had a huge impact on me as a young player over in West Coast," Judd said of Wiley on Tuesday.
"To be able to reunite with him at the end of my career has been really special as well."
The Judd file: career facts and figures
Wiley said the Eagles rated the Victorian the best player in the 2001 'Superdraft' and felt they won the lottery by picking him up after Luke Hodge and Luke Ball.
"There was a lot of talk that he couldn't kick. The first thing (recruiting chief) Trevor Woodhouse said was 'Can you have a look at the tape?' and I said 'Oh, he can kick', and I said 'He can get it', so it makes it a pretty good combination," Wiley said.
"I think initially he didn't want to come to the west, being a good Melbourne boy, but once he got there his work ethic was just unbelievable.
"For a talented kid, he worked harder than anyone else. It's quite obvious now that his record now stands as outstanding."
The Eagles infamously didn't play Judd in the first game of the 2002 season, but the champ ensured he would never be overlooked again after booting four goals in a best-on-ground display for East Perth in the WAFL.
"(East Perth coach Tony Micale) did say to the supporters after the game, 'Well, that's the last time you see Chris Judd wearing an East Perth jumper'."
West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett said Judd - who was a dual Eagles club champion, a Norm Smith medallist and appeared in 134 games - would be remembered as one of the club's greatest-ever players.
"He probably changed the game a bit. He set the standard from clearances that nobody had seen before," Nisbett said.
I think (his were) the best 100 games ever from the first 100 games of a player in the competition.
"Most players are a bit up and down. You could count on one hand Chris’ poor performances in that first 100.
"In fact I don’t think you’d count that many. He was unbelievable. In all sense of the word he’s a true champion."
Rob Wiley has always been happy to stay in the background. Picture: AFL Media