DUMPED from Geelong's forward line during last year's finals series, Tom Atkins headed for his post-season holidays only to watch the Cats sign gun trio Jeremy Cameron, Shaun Higgins and Isaac Smith.
With his mind spinning as to how he might win a spot back in the best 22, Atkins' career was thrown on its head following a summer catch-up with forwards coach Corey Enright.
A tick over three months later, and after a summer in defence at the request of a three-time premiership hero, the 25-year-old begins life as a running half-back against Adelaide on Saturday.
"I wouldn't say I'm feeling comfortable yet with the role, there's a lot more I need to learn and get better at but it's a nice change," Atkins told AFL.com.au.
"With the blokes we got in this year there wasn't much room in the forward line. You definitely think about where you fit into the team next year and stuff like that.
"I caught up with Corey Enright before pre-season went back and just spoke to him about what my role might be this year.
"He said, 'Have you ever spent any time down back?' I'd never played there, maybe when I was under-13s but it's completely different, obviously.
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"From there he said 'Scarlo's' (backline coach Matthew Scarlett) looking to trial you down back and I started training down there and it's been a lot of fun."
With Higgins and Smith added to a forward rotation that includes Grand Finalists Gryan Miers, Luke Dahlhaus, Gary Rohan and Sam Simpson, plus youngsters Brad Close, Francis Evans and Quinton Narkle, Atkins was going to be up against it in attack.
He collected 28 disposals in the Cats' AAMI Community Series win over Essendon a fortnight ago and showcased an impressive mix between attack and defence.
Now into his third season at the Cats, the No.30 will take on a different role to his new mentor, the man who made the same jumper famous across 15 stellar seasons that netted six All-Australians.
"It's well-known he's (Scarlett) a really direct coach and doesn't mince his words, it's been great to learn off him. It hasn't just been Scarlo … Lachie Henderson, Blitz (Mark Blicavs) and Mark (O'Connor) and everyone down there has been great to learn off," Atkins said.
"Firstly, we try and help each other in the air as much as we can. Part of playing a team defence is you might have to fly and try and take marks at some point so that was one thing I didn't do much of last year or the year before.
"Trying to control your opponent, (being) more defensive-minded and once we've secured the ball switching to attack rather than running attacking patterns all the time.
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"And learning the structures, we try and be very disciplined with our set-up behind the ball.
"I didn't find much of the footy at all in my first two years and that's sort of going to be my role this year, to try and support the footy and use the ball as much as I can.
"I've watched a bit of (Richmond defender) Liam Baker's stuff, that nippy half-back that's always there supporting the ball, pretty tough, pretty good in the contest and can also break the lines. That's just one example."
Atkins played mostly as a defensive forward in his first 35 games after being taken from the club's VFL program as a rookie at the end of 2018.
Initially part of a forward group self-titled the 'Wolf Pack', the local product said he's still treading carefully after jumping ship to the defenders' 'Misfits' contingent.
"There's been a few awkward moments," Atkins laughed.
"I'm still in the forwards WhatsApp (chat) group so I haven't been booted from there yet … we've built up a nice healthy rivalry over my first two years.
"I'm not really too sure where I'm sitting at the moment, I've maybe still got a foot in each camp."
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However, one way to bridge the two parties could be through his new side-hobby. Having completed his accounting degree prior to being draft, Atkins has turned his hand to home brewing.
"I've only made the one batch, I made a Pacific Ale using the same hops as Stone and Wood," he said.
"I don't know how it went down, there were mixed reports from a few of the people that I handed them out to.
"I've got another one brewing at the moment. It's like a Cerveja Corona, but it's been sitting there for the better part of two months. I've just been lazy to get it but that one might be going down the sink."