RICHMOND'S qualifying final win over Brisbane at the Gabba in 2019 meant more than just progress towards a second premiership for Brandon Ellis – it meant settling on a decision that would shape his immediate future.
For much of the year Ellis had been weighing up whether to stay with the powerhouse Tigers on a reduced contract or make the big shift to battling Gold Coast on a long-term deal.
"The hardest part was trying to convince my partner, now my fiancée, Sarah, because her life and her family was all set up in Melbourne," Ellis told AFL.com.au.
"If she was moving it would be because of me.
"We played Brisbane in that qualifying final and we won. I remember the weather being amazing and it made my decision easy.
"I spoke to Sarah and she said: 'Look, five-year deal, let's do it'.
"'Let's make the most of your career while you can.'
"We haven't looked back since."
Ellis will play his 200th game on Saturday when Gold Coast host St Kilda at Metricon Stadium, an incredible feat for someone still three months shy of his 28th birthday.
Suns coach Stuart Dew summed up Ellis' character the same way most do when you ask about him.
"He's infectious," Dew said of Ellis' energy.
"To get someone in who has won on the last Saturday in September was important. Anything they say and do carries a fair bit of weight.
"For us to get an experienced player who prepares well, plays well, is really consistent, is great for us coaches and me personally to try and help sell your message to the playing group.
"His honesty from my first meeting with him, I walked away thinking 'there's no sell about him, he's exactly as advertised' and that's the best thing about him."
In 18 months, Ellis has proved the ideal addition to the young Suns list.
He quickly became one of the most popular players at Carrara, with his chat, his generosity, his positivity and his energy hard to match.
After one week of celebrations following Richmond's 2019 triumph, the blonde-haired winger headed to Bali for a holiday – but not a break.
He jumped on a treadmill three times a week to keep fit.
Despite not being required at his new club until four weeks into their pre-season - remembering the Tigers had played five weeks longer than the Suns - he was desperate to show up early.
Ellis wanted to make a strong impression and "show them why they'd got me".
Upon returning from Bali, he suffered a calf injury running 1km repeats with Kane Lambert around Princes Park.
That work ethic, that want to keep improving, is something Ellis has had with him since his youth.
He was so driven and so disciplined that Calder Cannons talent manager Ian Kyte gave Ellis' father $50 to "get [him] drunk" because "he needs to be a normal human, all he does is work".
"I hate letting my body go – I like keeping fit," Ellis said.
"When you get to elite rep squads growing up, or when you get drafted, everyone has talent, it's working hard that's going to get you to the next level.
"I've got talent, everyone's got talent, it's just work ethic.
"I knew I had to do that to go past people or to get consistent games or play consistent footy.
"I give everything 100 per cent. There's days I feel off and don't feel like it, but I know it's only a couple of hours of hard work.
"Working out makes me feel good. It's a really good mental release."
Ellis has had a brilliant start to 2021, averaging 27 disposals and 10 marks a game.
He said part of the lure of coming to the Suns – there was also interest from Carlton and Essendon - was helping the club to their first ever finals appearance.
"I was lucky to play finals at Richmond and win two flags," he said.
"The feeling is incredible, you can't even explain it.
"I want these blokes, like Dave Swallow, Rory Thompson, Sam Day to experience what finals is like.
"That was a big selling point for me as well. A new challenge."
Ellis has helped younger players be themselves, surmising the group was a touch quieter on his arrival because they hadn't achieved much success.
Personally, he's never been more settled.
He got engaged over the Christmas break and said being happy off the field often led to playing well on it.
Ellis has taken on more of a leadership role, something he never really considered at the Tigers behind Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Alex Rance and others.
"The lifestyle here is incredible," he said.
"Our facilities are fantastic, we have three ovals to pick from, our gym's massive.
"I don't regret my decision one bit, I love it here."