ON SUNDAY, Taylor Adams and Patrick Cripps will lock horns in an important midfield battle as Collingwood and Carlton jostle for a finals berth.
But in an alternative universe, Adams would be playing for the Blues. And where that leaves Cripps is anyone's guess.
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In an interesting 'What if?' moment that has turned into a win-win-win for three clubs, Adams' decision to leave Greater Western Sydney at the end of 2013 and head back to Victoria sparked a run of consequences that could have gone very different ways.
After two years at the Giants, Adams weighed up approaches from the Magpies, Blues, Cats and Bombers, while Richmond also had an interest.
He toured Carlton's facility late in the year and the Blues were genuinely keen to secure him, knowing at 20 he presented as a long-term midfield star.
They had snuck into that year's finals series after the expulsion of Essendon due to the ASADA investigation, and had beaten Richmond in the elimination final.
But they knew their midfield needed bolstering, so much so that they had made it clear that to get a deal with Adams and the Giants over the line, they were willing to part with their first pick that year – pick 13.
"We had an interest in Taylor," former Blues recruiting boss Shane Rogers told AFL.com.au.
"He came to the club and we toured him around, and we probably thought he wasn't going to choose us in the end and he went with Collingwood. But we had our first pick ready there if it did go that way and progress a bit further."
It didn't, with Adams believing Collingwood was the better fit.
So the Blues held onto their top draft selection and used it a month later on Cripps, the late-blooming West Australian midfielder who had rocketed up the charts.
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At the time it was considered a brave but exciting pick: not everyone would have taken Cripps that early, and certainly few had him ranked any higher than that spot, but the Blues backed in what they had seen from the youngster. Ben Lennon, who the Blues also liked, was taken the pick before by Richmond at No.12.
"I'm very happy with how it turned out," Rogers said.
"At the time I didn't think we had a lot of leaders either. So that was the bonus of picking Patty Cripps – he was going to be a leader.
"And Taylor Adams would have been that for us too, that's why he was one of the players we identified because we needed that hard edge that we didn't have at the time.
"Both those blokes brought the exact same thing I thought."
Adams has proven to be an excellent player for Collingwood and is in the mix for his first Virgin Australia AFL All Australian jumper this season.
The club vice-captain has played 114 games in the black and white and is entering the prime of his career, while Cripps has had a quick ascent to be one of the competition's best players, taking out last year's AFL MVP award, three best and fairests and finishing third in last year's Brownlow Medal.
The other club involved in the eventual deal for Adams was, of course, the Giants, who executed a straight swap for Magpies defender Heath Shaw.
Shaw has played nearly 150 games for the Giants and held up his end of the bargain, being a two-time All-Australian and a key player in their multiple finals series highlighting how the second half of his career, too, was shaped by Adams' decision to choose Collingwood over other suitors.