BRADY Rawlings says respect for Adam Simpson was his sole reason for leaving North Melbourne and moving across the country to join West Coast as an assistant coach.
The 32-year-old retired from playing in 2011 after an outstanding 245-game career with North Melbourne and remained with the club he loved in a recruiting and development role.
However, despite thinking he would never leave the Kangaroos, a request from his great mate and new West Coast coach Simpson simply couldn’t be ignored.
"It was the toughest decision I've ever had to make," Rawlings told AFL.com.au.
"There was probably a stage where I was thinking I was going to be at North for my whole life."
"It's not too often when someone you respect so highly, and you've got a great relationship with, gets a senior coaching job.
"When they ask you to be involved, you seriously consider it.
"In any other case I'd probably still be at North for a very long time, as long as I was doing my job right.
"But in this situation I thought it was too good an opportunity not to take. To be involved with Simmo, going on this ride was something that was enough for me to leave the club I love and move my family over to the western side of the country as well."
Simpson, a first year coach, has already made a significant impression on his new club, but it is one that does not surprise Rawlings given the calibre of the man he played 11 seasons alongside at North Melbourne.
"We've always been really close - but at a professional level as well where he'd challenge me as another leader and as a teammate, which I'd never really seen any other leaders do," Rawlings said.
"He'd do whatever it took to win. He'd play his role for the team and his selflessness as a player and his love for his club flowed onto the rest of us.
"He's always been really hard working. He's always thinking about the game. As a coach, that's flowing through as well. He puts in the hard yards and his communication to the players has been really impressive. The way he teaches, I've learnt a lot from him already."
Simpson has assembled a relatively inexperienced coaching panel and has impressed upon them the importance of teaching players in the right way.
"He wants us to be educators," Rawlings said.
"So I think, first of all, developing relationships with the players was a key for me.
"And then also finding different ways to educate. So it's not just telling all the time. It's using different avenues to get your message across. That's something I've really noticed since I've been here."
The modern methods of coaching are somewhat different to what Rawlings experienced under Denis Pagan when he first began his AFL career.
The three-time best and fairest winner believes the best lesson he ever got from Pagan was when he was dropped from the team for not retaliating against Daryn Cresswell after the Sydney Swans veteran whacked Rawlings and then alerted the umpires to send him off under the blood rule.
"That was probably a bit old school back then but also some old school lessons really stick with you,” Rawlings said.“So it's a bit of both. I don't think there's a definitive way either way but I still think there's a place for a bit of old school teaching as well."