CHAIRING off his good mate Lachie Neale at the end of the Brownlow medallist's 200th game last week only highlighted to Brisbane's Lincoln McCarthy how different his own AFL journey has been.
Neale and McCarthy were members of the same draft in 2011 but the small forward will be making just his 100th appearance in Sunday's Queensland derby against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.
Regardless of the disparity, McCarthy is no less proud of his achievement after arriving in Brisbane in 2019 having managed just 29 matches in seven injury-plagued seasons at Geelong.
"Lachie doubled me last week and we got drafted together," McCarthy said.
"A couple of contrasting careers right there.
"I'm happy to be keeping mine on the right track at the moment."
Reborn in Queensland, McCarthy has made 70 appearances in just over three seasons with the Lions and been a key part of the club's emergence as a premiership prospect.
AFL'S 50 MVPs Cal Twomey makes the call
It's a story that has been well told but the 28-year-old remains forever grateful for the Lions for taking a chance on him and enabling him to revive a career he admits could otherwise already be done and dusted.
"When you consider pulling the pin seven years through and have had 29 games, then being able to grind my way back, it's something to be proud of," McCarthy said.
"I'm just really grateful for the support that I've had to enable me to do that, to be honest, because there was definitely some times when footy ... I wasn't doing it for love.
"Definitely the last few years I have been, so it's been good fun.
"There was probably six months there where I was weighing up whether it would be a good move (to Brisbane) for me or not. Even when I got here, the first six months I was still weighing up whether I'd be able to repay them the faith they've had in me.
"They signed me after my history, they gave me a three-year deal opportunity. That's pretty lucky to be honest.
"I'm just grateful and proud that I've, in a way, been able to repay them for the faith they've had in me a little bit. I want to keep it on that trajectory."
McCarthy is just one of several players to shake off injury worries at the Gabba including fellow ex-Cat Nakia Cockatoo and key forward Joe Daniher.
The secret to the Lions' healing properties? There isn't one, as far as McCarthy is concerned.
"Sometimes things just click at the right time," he said.
"Can't discredit all the work that the guys do around the joint but it's hard to really know what the real factors are."