IT IS a child's soccer ball, rather than a Sherrin, that has helped Jesse Hogan settle in Sydney at his third AFL club.
The odd-couple pairing of Hogan, who will make his club debut for Greater Western Sydney in Saturday's clash with Adelaide, and landlord Shane Mumford has the makings of a cliche-ridden family sitcom.
"It's a big city. He found Mummy and Mummy found him," Giants coach Leon Cameron quipped.
Hogan was on the cusp of retirement until GWS offered a one-year contract and final chance to fulfil the potential he exhibited at Melbourne, having edged Patrick Cripps to win the 2015 Rising Star award.
Multiple injuries, an anxiety disorder and what Fremantle football manager Peter Bell termed "poor alcohol choices" had stalled the key forward's development after shifting to Perth in 2018.
The West Australian yearned for a fresh start and the relative anonymity of living outside an AFL fishbowl.
Cameron and football manager Jason McCartney agreed to take a punt after interviewing the 26-year-old via Zoom.
Hogan temporarily shifted into Lachie Whitfield's place, while the reigning best and fairest was away during the off-season, then started looking for his next base.
Mumford offered up his granny flat, as he did last year to help teammate Nick Shipley move out of a COVID-19 hotspot, and told Hogan "basically, you can stay there for as a long as you need".
Countless people have regretted similar offers; let alone a 34-year-old veteran ruckman living with wife Eva and their two young sons Ollie and Theo.
However, the arrangement has proven a quintessential win-win.
"It's great for him. My eldest son doesn't leave him alone, they're playing soccer in the backyard all the time," Mumford said.
"He's got people around all the time, people to talk to. It's great for us, having someone else there for Ollie to play with.
"He spends so much time with Ollie, it's not funny. I feel bad for Jesse at times, he'll get home and try to sneak through.
"Ollie will spot him and bolt out the back door, 'Jesse! Soccer? Soccer?' Jesse being Jesse, he's too nice to say no."
Hogan expected the arrangement to last a "couple of days", but he quickly clicked with the Mumford clan, saying they help him wind down after football commitments.
"I've probably spent more time with Shane's children than I have a lot of my own nieces and nephews," Hogan told the club website.
"It's been awesome ... it's worked out really well and I'm really enjoying it."
Cameron described Mumford as a "really good mentor".
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"Mummy's built that relationship where they can talk about some of the things he (Hogan) has struggled with," Cameron said.
The coach admitted his prized recruit, who trained well throughout pre-season then suffered an untimely quad injury, will be closely scrutinised both on and off the field.
Cameron is excited about the "firepower" offered by a healthy and happy Hogan, but also keen to keep expectations in check as Hogan seeks to help fill the immense void left by Jeremy Cameron.
"We've got to remember he's missed a lot of footy," Leon Cameron said.
"He probably hasn't had a pre-season for five or so years. Jesse hasn't had continuity for a long time, you can't just wave a wand and say, 'pump 50 more games into him right now'.
"We all know that he probably struggled in the spotlight of Melbourne, then Perth.
"Since arriving in Sydney, he's settled well ... and trained really, really hard."
Mumford would love Hogan to recreate the form that excited Melbourne fans and Fremantle staffers, adding "it is certainly achievable" and would be due reward given the recent effort he has put in.
"I don't think anybody at the club spends more time on computers, looking at training and match vision," Mumford said.
"It's something that probably surprised me quite a lot.
"Jesse's always asking questions of coaches. He's always studying leading patterns of other guys.
"You can see he loves footy. He's eager to learn and is giving it his all."