MITCH Clark would love to still be playing for Melbourne, but his decision to join Geelong was based around how "comfortable" he felt when he first walked through the doors at Simonds Stadium.
Clark retired in April after deciding he could no longer cope with the demands of playing elite level of football because of his ongoing battle with depression.
The 27-year-old is in a much better space now and told reporters on his first day at pre-season training with the Cats he was excited by his new opportunity.
"I felt extremely comfortable walking through the door here and that's probably what got me over the line (to sign with Geelong) in the end," Clark said on Monday.
"I just felt so comfortable as soon as I walked in and the boys want to win and I want to win so we share the same needs out of our footy."
When Clark announced his intention to return to the AFL, Collingwood and Geelong were the two favourites to acquire his services.
But his decision ultimately boiled down to his existing relationships with former Brisbane Lions teammates Chris Scott, Nigel Lappin and Troy Selwood.
Clark said the advice he received was based around starting anew in a totally different environment.
"I was told, with my situation, a fresh start would probably be best for me," he said.
"People know how much I love the Melbourne footy club and how badly I wanted to be there.
"But unfortunately that's the way it goes and I've moved on now and I'm really excited to be here."
Clark wasn't the only new face at Geelong training with former Saint Rhys Stanley and ex-Demon Sam Blease also out on the track.
Stanley was traded to Geelong for pick No.21 in this year's draft, which showed the kind of talent the club's recruiters see him possessing.
"That gave me a lot of confidence when this all kicked off," Stanley said.
"It's been a massive whirlwind of an experience but I'm super psyched to be down here."
Blease, who spent five seasons on Melbourne's list, was recruited to provide outside run, made more necessary by the departures of Travis Varcoe and Allen Christensen.
The 23-year-old is well aware of the things he needs to work on – most notably his endurance - and he knows exactly why he was let go by his old club.
"The way Melbourne were playing, I probably wasn't suited to that," he said.
"But as I said I've got to take some responsibility in myself and I'm just fortunate to get another opportunity at Geelong.
"Geelong recruited me, believe it or not, for the things I can do so I'm just looking forward to using my speed and kicking ability out here and hopefully there's a role for me and it's up to me to take it now."
Geelong also signed Irishman Padraig Lucey – a participant on Foxtel's reality show The Recruit – as a category B rookie.
Lucey was met with a tough initiation period, joining the club's first-to-fourt- year players in completing a 2km time trial and then a tough endurance-based running session not long after.
For the developing 204cm ruck prospect, the chance to come out to Australia means a lot.
"I've given up everything really," Lucey said.
"The first time I touched a footy I didn't go 'I want to be an AFL footballer' it kind of took a bit of time.
"But as I started to get better at it just became addictive and now that I'm here at the club there's no better feeling."
The Cats also handed out new jumper numbers to their recruits, with Clark (No.19), Rhys Stanley (No.1), Sam Blease (No.12) and Lucey (No.42) all donning the blue and white hoops for the first time on Monday.