Patrick Lipinski was on the outside looking in at the Western Bulldogs and knew he needed a fresh AFL start.
So after five seasons and 56 senior games, the 23-year-old on-baller has taken a calculated risk by joining the new-look Collingwood.
The Bulldogs boast the league’s deepest well of midfield talent and Lipinski only managed 11 senior games this season – and significantly, none after round 20.
He also wants to play more games as an infield midfielder, but the only spot available to him in the Bulldogs’ senior team was on a wing.
“I just felt it was the right time to take my career into my own hands and try something new,” he said.
“It was pretty clear that the midfield group at the ‘Dogs is probably the best in the league.
“It’s very deep in there.
“I got to play in the midfield in the VFL and played pretty well and obviously wasn’t getting a game.”
Lipinski’s card effectively was marked a year ago when Essendon failed to recruit Josh Dunkley from the ‘Dogs, who lured Adam Treloar from the Magpies instead.
Those trade developments would put Lipinski two steps back in the Bulldogs midfield queue.
But Lipinski is good friends with Treloar, saying the former Magpies ace sent a text message to wish him all the best at Collingwood.
He certainly sees no “sliding doors” scenario.
“I don’t really look at it like that – he’s created his own pathway at the ‘Dogs and he’s going really well there. I hope he has a long career,” Lipinski said.
“It’s not really related, in my opinion.”
Lipinski, who was traded for pick No.43, said he chose Collingwood because they also are having a fresh start.
Recently-appointed coach Craig McCrae has assembled his own group of assistants and for all their struggles this season the Magpies have some good young talent.
Lipinski also noted that he goes some way to filling a gap in Collingwoods’ player demographics, noting there are not too many 23-year-olds on their list.
“It’s a really exciting time to come to Collingwood – it’s a fresh start for everyone, new coaching staff, plenty of young players and just the opportunity for me to hopefully play a bit more AFL,” he said.
He met with McCrae for an hour on Monday and came away impressed.
“He’s a really chilled and caring guy. He has a great footy mind, from what I picked up in that little hour,” Lipinski said.
But he made it clear there is no bad blood with his former club – indeed, Aaron Naughton and Tim English will remain his house mates.
“They’re excited for me, to hopefully take my career to the next level,” Lipinski said.
“Hopefully I can recruit them across in the years to come … joking.”