The opportunity to play under an AFL great was one of the reasons Fergus Greene decided to continue his football career with the Box Hill Hawks.
After being delisted by AFL club the Western Bulldogs, the former Sandhurst and Bendigo Pioneers forward has signed to play with the Hawthorn-affiliated club in the yet to be named eastern Australian league that replaces the VFL.
The Hawks' new senior coach is four-times Hawthorn premiership player and 2012 Brownlow Medal winner Sam Mitchell, who will be assisted by another Hawthorn premiership star, Andy Collins.
Greene, 23, had other options, including interstate, but decided the Hawks would give him the best opportunity to enhance his prospects of a return to the AFL via the mid-season draft or next year's national draft.
"It was an easy decision in the end, to be honest, because of their appointments with their coaching staff'' Greene said.
"To have Sam Mitchell come on board, who is probably a future AFL coach, and Andy Collins, who has had so much success as coach in the VFL, that pretty much made my decision for me.
"I did consider a couple of other clubs, but the Hawks had what I wanted in terms of successful coaching and the chance to get back into the AFL.
"My manager told me that I was on Hawthorn's radar, but I just didn't play enough AFL footy for them to make a move on me this year.
"Box Hill being Hawthorn's AFL affiliate means I'll be under their eyes at all times. It's about doing everything right now and, hopefully, performances look after themselves."
Read more: Catch up on all the latest local footy news
Greene, who kicked five goals in five senior games for the Western Bulldogs, has been joined at the Hawks by his former Dogs' team-mate Callan Porter.
They've had a handful of training sessions under Mitchell before the Christmas break.
"They've eased us back in to a degree when you take into account that more than 90 per cent of the list hasn't played footy for 12 months,'' Greene said.
"You have to be careful with blokes getting injured. We've done a lot of ball work, but not a heap of contested stuff because of some regulations.
"I'd kept myself pretty fit (in the off-season) because I was hoping to be picked up again (in the AFL draft).
"It's been good to get some touch going again and my involvement has been largely around getting to know all my new team-mates."
Greene said 38-year-old Mitchell had made a strong first impression.
"He's a young guy in terms of coaching, so he relates to the players really well,'' Greene said.
"He's a really impressive speaker as well and he understands that as VFL players we have other things in our lives, like jobs.
"I'm working in Yarraville, so it's potentially an hour to hour-and-a-half drive in peak hour traffic to get to training.
"If you're a bit late because of traffic they're very accommodating whereas at an AFL club if you're five minutes late you cop a whack no matter what your excuse is.
"That's been a refreshing change. The whole coaching staff has been really impressive."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.