FREMANTLE midfield coach Josh Carr started to get a sense of the asset he was gaining in the centre square when Will Brodie came to him pre-season agitating for more contest work.
Motivated by a fresh start and energised by the Dockers' belief in him, the former Gold Coast midfielder was hungry to show what he could do and itching for the bash-and-crash of games.
Having fallen out of favour after 25 games in five seasons with the Suns, Brodie hadn't lost faith in his own ability even if he was no longer seen by others as the elite talent the Suns had drafted with pick No.9 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft.
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And when he got his chance to show Carr and Co. what he knew he could do, the Dockers' coaches stood up and took notice, setting in motion what has been an outstanding first half of the season for the 23-year-old.
"I remember him talking to me and asking when we were going to start playing games because he just wanted to prove to us the type of player he was," Carr told AFL.com.au this week.
"As soon as we started playing games, he was popping up and kicking a couple of goals but then also winning the football inside.
"He's super, super tough, and we saw that from the start of pre-season with his tackling and willingness to put his body on the line.
"But the more we started to play games where there were more contests, that allowed him to demonstrate what his strengths were."
After impressive match simulation form was interrupted by a minor hip injury, Brodie's statement came in the first pre-season game against West Coast when he cemented himself as a member of the Dockers' best midfield with a prolific performance at Mineral Resources Park.
He debuted for the Dockers in round one and has gone on to average a team-high 12.7 contested possessions and 2.6 centre clearances in his nine games, ranking No.2 at the club for overall clearances (6.0) and disposals (27.1).
He ranks No.10 in the AFL for overall contested possessions, recording a career-high 21 from his 37 disposals against Greater Western Sydney in round four.
"There's a lot of confidence with him and what he's giving us, and his ability to put pressure on inside and win the contested footy," Carr said.
"He obviously had his struggles on the Gold Coast for whatever reason, and I think when you get a new player in it's important to focus on their strengths and I think we've done that.
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"It's allowed him to have a bit of time to get on top with his confidence and I think he's been able to build on that and got better and better."
Carr's first impressions of Brodie were of a player who was craving opportunity but understanding that he needed to earn it.
A "relaxed and laidback character", he fitted in with the Dockers' young players straight away after being pulled into off-season training sessions by Andy Brayshaw and Caleb Serong.
What has followed since has been reward for effort, Brodie said this week, after battling for consistent opportunities behind several inside midfielders at Gold Coast.
"I felt like I always had that belief that I was capable and that's why I never gave up, because I knew that when my opportunity came I'd be ready," he said.
"I always believed I was good enough to play at the level and feel like I'm just scratching the surface at the moment of what type of footballer I can become.
"They (Fremantle) believed that my strengths could really add to this group, and that was something that was really exciting to me, just being able to focus on the things that I do best and get them to a level that is really hard to compete against in the AFL."
With Fremantle's midfield in good order, despite the absence of injured captain Nat Fyfe, there is intrigue around how Brodie and the Dockers' dual Brownlow medallist can work together in the middle.
Both coach Justin Longmuir and Carr have expressed confidence that the pair, who boast similar contested traits, can function in the same engine room, with rotating forward an option for both players.
"I've had some brief discussions with Nat about how that will look, but we're both just really excited to get in there," Brodie said.
"The midfield mix has been really good so far and to add a two-time Brownlow medallist to that is really exciting.
"We're really looking forward to having him back in there and we know that when he's at his best he's one of the best in the comp.
"I'm looking forward to working with him and hopefully we can do a bit of damage together."