LAST year was the most difficult of Kamdyn McIntosh's footballing career, but a few runs in the Utah snow have done the world of good.
As Richmond won the AFL-VFL premiership double in 2019, just five players on the entire list missed out on playing in a Grand Final victory.
Jake Aarts was suspended, Jack Graham and Jack Higgins were injured (the latter recovering from a brain bleed), while Jack Ross and McIntosh had been withdrawn from the VFL decider as injury cover for the AFL team.
Neither made the final 22, with Marlion Pickett instead writing his name in folklore as an AFL Grand Final debutant, replacing the wounded Graham.
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At 25 and with 90 AFL games under his belt at the time, McIntosh was comfortably the most senior player to miss out.
"Personally, it was probably one of my toughest years I've been through, but it was an opportunity though for a player like Marlion Pickett – who's gone through so much hardship in his life – to have a dream come true," McIntosh told afl.com.au.
"'Dimma' (coach Damien Hardwick) is really good on reflecting on the journey of where we're going, and not just the Grand Final.
"I very much did feel a part of that Grand Final, even though I wasn't playing. I felt like that week I was able to be up and about for the boys. I knew I was there to help them out."
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McIntosh was contracted for the 2020 season, and there were reports – which he termed "inaccurate" – he was potentially looking elsewhere after his season ended in dual disappointment.
"When you go through something like last year, there's always thoughts that pop up – where the club sees me in the side, do they value me, or do they need me? But at the end of the season, I ultimately wanted to stay," McIntosh said.
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McIntosh's form has been very solid this year. In shortened matches, his numbers have barely budged, with average disposals going from 14.1 to 13.6, and marks (a strength of his game) slightly falling from 4.0 to 3.8.
The winger's positioning, and his ability to hold and create width across the ground, has been crucial to Richmond's trademark scrambled forward movement.
It has been a bounce-back year that started about as far from Punt Road as you can get. McIntosh spent two weeks over summer in Utah visiting former teammate Ben Lennon, who is studying and playing college gridiron there. While Lennon was busy with classes, McIntosh ran, often in snow, at 1100 metres above sea level.
"I went away knowing I still had two years at Richmond, and I was asking myself what I wanted it to look like," he said.
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"I went there with the intent to train hard, get my body right, so I could come back in pre-season and really hit it hard.
"That's what I did. I set personal bests in the gym, on the running track, I was training in the backline and learning another role."
A syndesmosis injury in his right ankle at the end of January initially caused some anxiety, considering McIntosh had missed the majority of 2016 with the same injury.
"But when the physios told me it was an eight-week injury, I was rapt," he said.
"I went back to work, and I wanted to let the coaches know that I wasn't done and I wanted to play for the footy club again, leave no stone unturned.
"I found a little bit more hunger and intent in my training, rather than just going through the motions."