STAR Fremantle recruit Will Brodie says he endured some dark days at Gold Coast, but he still has some lifelong friends at the Suns.
Brodie was traded to Fremantle at the end of last season in what was effectively a salary cap dump for Gold Coast.
The 24-year-old was first drafted by the Suns with pick No.9 in 2016, but he managed just 25 games across five years before being shipped out.
>> DOCKERS v BULLDOGS Get your finals tickets NOW
Brodie always had a strong inner belief he belonged at AFL level, but it wasn't until he arrived at Fremantle that he was handed a proper chance to prove himself.
The 189cm midfielder has thrived under Dockers coach Justin Longmuir, averaging 27.6 disposals and 5.7 clearances per game in a breakout campaign.
Geelong's Tyson Stengle wins the unofficial recruit-of-the-year honours for his 46-goal season, but Brodie wasn't far off.
'WE'VE LEARNED A LOT' Dockers not afraid of the rain this time around
Brodie, who will play his first AFL final when he lines up in Saturday night's elimination stoush against the Western Bulldogs, was glad he ended up at Fremantle.
"There were certainly difficult times while I was at Gold Coast, there’s no doubt about that. Some dark days," Brodie said.
"But the thing that always kept me going was that belief that one day it would work out, that I did belong at the level.
"I still keep in touch with a lot of the playing group there (at Gold Coast), I love those boys.
TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news
"They were all super. I had some great mates there - even some leaders at the club - who understood the position I was in.
"Some were even saying that it would be within my best interests to move on as well.
"So everyone was understanding when I left, there were no hard feelings, and everyone was hopeful and excited for me to find somewhere new."
Brodie lists Ben Ainsworth, Jack Bowes, Brayden Fiorini and Darcy Macpherson among his best friends at Gold Coast.
"It was a really good group of blokes there that I will stay in touch with forever," he said.
"We keep in contact throughout the whole year. A lot of group chats, a lot of banter, but a lot of love as well."
Earlier this season, Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew defended his club's decision to let Brodie go.
Dew said opportunities for Brodie as an inside midfielder were limited due to the presence of Touk Miller, Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Dave Swallow.
Brodie is thriving at Fremantle, and he's optimistic that a sustained period of success awaits the club.