At times last season Dan Butler could be forgiven for having his mind elsewhere.
With Richmond working towards a second premiership in the space of three years, Butler was out of the senior side and out of contract.
And with a host of other small forwards playing well at Tigerland, the writing was on the wall.
"Probably towards the end of last year I kind of knew I wasn't going to be at Richmond the following year," Butler, who grew up in Ballarat, said.
"Dimma (coach Damien Hardwick) and the list manager Blair Hartley were really good and open and honest with me. I kind of told them I was obviously out of contract so if I couldn't get a contract I'd be looking elsewhere.
"They were really good with that and helped me out as much as they could."
After winning the premiership with the club during his debut AFL season in 2017, Butler could only force his way into the senior side on five occasions during 2019 but still managed to lift the VFL premiership in September. Shortly after that, a move to St Kilda was struck and a new chapter emerged.
And what a ride it's been for the 24-year-old Lake Wendouree export, who was named in the All Australian squad of 40 early in the week. He missed selection in the final team of 22 on Thursday night, but still rates 2020 as the best year of his AFL career.
Butler admits he had some concerns about his future at the elite level when things started to look ominous with the Tigers.
"I guess there was some doubts," he told The Courier.
"When you are told by your club that there won't be a contract for you, you get a little bit nervous and stuff, but my manager was really good in reassuring me we'd be able to find a home somewhere.
"I was lucky enough to end up at the Saints. I'm loving it here and it's been a great year."
Butler's 2020 campaign has been superb. The small forward has played 17 games and kicked 27 goals while averaging 10.9 disposals, laying 66 tackles and having 72 score involvements.
"I think in 2017 I played some good footy, but this year has probably been my most consistent year," he said.
"With shorter quarters I've probably had more of an impact in games than I have previously."
The former St Patrick's College student is now looking to finals and an elimination encounter against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, October 3.
"We are really keen to play the Dogs next week and really think we can give finals a good nudge," he said.
While Butler missed a place in the All Australian side on Thursday night, so too did local exports Zak Butters (Port Adelaide) and Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane Lions).
Both were named in the squad of 40 announced early in the week.
Butters grew up playing with Darley, while McCluggage, from South Warrnambool, was drafted via the Greater Western Victoria Rebels.