NICK Lower was given no guarantees when he joined the Western Bulldogs for pre-season training last year, and he holds no grudges now that his time with the club is over.
After 13 games in his one season at the Whitten Oval, Lower was told by list manager Jason McCartney earlier this month that he had been squeezed out by the Bulldogs' army of young inside midfielders.
Hearing the news wasn't easy, but he said he understood the club's position, with Mitch Wallis, Tom Liberatore, Clay Smith and Koby Stevens taking on more midfield responsibility.
The 26-year-old's career, which started at Port Adelaide in 2005 and saw him relaunch at Fremantle as a rookie in 2011, has been a tale of persistence, and he is hopeful another chance will present.
"I'm quite close with Jason and it was quite difficult for him to deliver the news," Lower told AFL.com.au.
"He'd just come from a meeting with Daniel Cross, so I don't think he was having the best of days.
"We'd already arranged to have dinner and a couple of drinks, so we were sitting in a pub in Port Melbourne and he had that look on his face that something was up.
"He laid it out and told me the reasons why, and I'm pretty realistic, I understand that footy is a cut-throat business and decisions have to be made.
"I just thanked him for the opportunity to come to the Bulldogs."
After 20 games in three seasons with Port Adelaide between 2008 and 2010, Lower spent one year with SANFL club Norwood where he transformed from a half-back to an inside midfielder, earning him a chance with Fremantle, where he played 22 games in two seasons.
He started this season by keeping Brisbane Lions midfielder Daniel Rich to eight possessions in a brilliant tagging performance, but rolled ankles, bone bruising and a concussion robbed him of consistency.
"Obviously I haven't played as many games as I would have liked in my seven years, but I've still got seven years of experience under my belt," he said.
"The first half of this year was a steep learning curve for me because I've never really tagged before, but you learn a lot by doing it.
"As the year progressed I copped a few injuries, which were a bit out of my hands.
"It would have been good to come back into the team and just play as a midfielder, which was an opportunity I was always looking for."
Lower, who is close to completing a commerce degree, is working in commercial real estate with CBRE and is involved with the AFL Players Association's Next Goal program.
Playing at the highest level again is his goal, however, and he said he would be willing to travel anywhere to train with a club through the pre-season.
"That's pretty much how the Bulldogs came about … they just said rock up with your footy boots and your mouthguard and we'll see what you've got," he said.
"You never know what can come of those opportunities, but if you don't take them you can die wondering and I certainly don't want to do that."