A FRESH challenge and off-field development were the selling points for Brianna Davey's shock move from Carlton to Collingwood.
The 24-year-old, who captained the Blues in 2017-18, revealed she knocked back an offer to move to the Pies at the end of the 2018 season, when she was still recovering from a serious right knee injury and just after Carlton had finished last.
But with the Blues making the NAB AFLW Grand Final this year (ultimately going down to Adelaide), Davey felt the timing was right for her to cross to Collingwood on a two-season contract.
"I was sought out rather than the other way around. It was a tough decision but I'm looking forward to (the move)," Davey told womens.afl.
"To clear it up, it was never a thought in my mind throughout the season that I was going anywhere. The assumption is that I was looking for a way out, but that was never the case.
"Throughout the season I was very focused on what I was doing at the time. It all happened really fast.
"It wasn't until after the Grand Final that I sat down with my manager (Peter Lenton) – like a lot of other players do – and he had some things there for me to look at, and some he thought would be really good for me both off-field and on-field."
The quick turnaround between the Grand Final (March 31), the start of the AFLW Trade and Signing Period (April 8) and the Blues' best and fairest count (April 11) meant Davey had limited time to inform Carlton of her wish to move clubs.
An end-of-season trip to Bali with teammates and a wish to tell coach Daniel Harford and others at the club in person of her intentions meant the conversations happened just days after the best and fairest, which Davey jointly won with young star Maddy Prespakis.
"It was tough to have those conversations, but I wanted to be as transparent as I could. I tried to keep the communication open as much as I could, giving my teammates, the coaches and the club the heads-up that there were potential things I was looking at," Davey said.
"Then, when it actually came time to make and share the decision, it was hard. It doesn't matter how much notice I gave, it was always going to be hard.
"Understandably [Harford] is a bit disappointed and I know the club is too.
"All I can say is I do understand, and I had to sit down and nut it out, and then when I reached the decision, I felt comfortable with it. But it was always tough, especially having an emotional attachment. I will forever cherish captaining the team."
Davey said her decision to move was for a combination of reasons.
"The first thing is I'm the biggest homebody you'll meet, I often don't enjoy change. I feel like going into something new will push me out of my comfort zone. Anytime I've done that in my career – in soccer or footy – I feel like I've grown as a person and an athlete," she said.
"When I was 18, I went to play (soccer) in Sweden for a few months. At the time I was really nervous about it because it was new and unknown territory, and it was probably one of the best things I've ever done. I was pretty comfortable at Carlton and it will be a new experience at Collingwood."
The Magpies have also made an offer to support Davey off the field. She is studying a Bachelor of Education at Victoria University in Footscray.
"Ideally the work I want to do is to get into elite sporting high schools and work with (future) AFLW players and build pathways through schools. The long-long-term plan is to coach an AFLW team," she said.
"[The Magpies] were able to support that and help me through all the steps. A playing career is only so long, and the off-field stuff really screamed out to me.
"I'm most likely to be linked up with Box Hill Senior Secondary College (through the Pies), which already has quite a good women's footy program. Tilly (Lucas-Rodd, who is Davey's partner, and who signed with St Kilda after being delisted by Carlton) went through it, so it's been around for a fair few years before AFLW.
"I'm hoping to be there a few days a week, because I'm still at uni, and also working my way through coaching accreditations."
Davey said she wouldn't have felt comfortable leaving Carlton last year after a disastrous season, despite Collingwood having put an offer to her.
"At the time, we weren't in great shape as a group. We were wooden-spooners and I felt like we had unfinished business, and I wanted to build that up and I think we were successful.
"I feel like the Carlton group is in a really good spot for me to leave. It wouldn't have sat well with me if I'd walked [last year] because (2019) may have been challenging."
Davey isn't ignorant to the pain she has caused Carlton and its fans.
She saw the online backlash directed by angry Western Bulldogs supporters towards their former captain Katie Brennan when she moved to Richmond a few weeks earlier, and made the unusual decision to do what you are generally advised not to.
She read the comments.
"I was still in the midst of making my decision and seeing [the Brennan reaction] was a 'woah' moment. In the past, with anything to do with sport I just keep away from [online chat] because I'm just there to play," Davey said.
"I wanted to have a look because regardless of what I end up doing, I wanted to understand what was going to come at me. I didn't want to shy away from it.
"That was pretty daunting, but it shows where AFLW is going. Fans are so invested, they're getting emotional about these sorts of things. You want that, but at the same time, once things settle down you hope they let it go a little bit, because we're people as well," she said.
"We have to think about our lives … we're juggling a lot of things as female athletes, it's not like footy is all we do and we're on massive pay packets and we can afford to stay.
"It's a little bit of a different situation."
In a wide-ranging interview, Davey also touched on:
The upcoming VFLW season with Collingwood:
"I'll probably have another month off. I'll keep training but coming off a knee reconstruction (in 2018) I just need to build my body up a little bit more. I'll probably play in blocks with a rest in between. VFLW is the time we have as players to develop. AFLW is just go-go-go and is about performance. It's a business … it's our job."
What she wants to work on:
"I feel pretty comfortable with my backline craft, that's pretty natural coming from being a (soccer) goalkeeper. I had played a bit of midfield with the St Kilda Sharks, but it's different jumping to AFLW in the midfield. I want to refine my craft a bit more in a faster-pace game and the (work on) the ‘smarts' of it … being able to shark the other ruck's tap and body positioning."
Moving to a team that won only one game and is yet to appoint a new coach:
"Collingwood is obviously going to have a process to find the right fit, and I trust they're going to do a good job in that. We'll have to wait and see on that front. I knew they had a young list, but from what I've seen, it's exciting. They only had the one win, but a lot of their games were close. That's probably something that drew me as well … I really enjoy taking on that mentor role."
Growing up barracking for Collingwood:
"My favourite player was Nathan Buckley. When I was in juniors, I wore No.5 solely because of him. It didn't affect my decision to move. My Dad gets grumpy, because he had nothing to do with it. There was a bit of media (discussion) that I'm only going because of my Dad. That's not the case."
The impact of AFLW:
"I think when some people speak about AFLW, saying it's this or that or crap, they don't understand what it's done for community and women's sport in general. Over three years you can see the massive amount of improvement. I did my knee in season two, and coming back into season three was (an eye-opener). Some of the young girls are freaky … they can kick both sides, they're so smart and they're very good players."