A month after starting his record-breaking AFL career at Geelong, all Corey Enright wanted to do was end it.
The teenager from Kimba, the SA country town halfway between Perth and Sydney, had a bad case of homesickness.
So his parents Garry and Maxine flew to Victoria in the summer of 1999-2000 and met Cats officials, including senior coach Mark Thompson.
“They were very, very concerned that he was homesick and wasn’t going to last in Geelong,” Thompson told AAP.
“They were prepared to take him home – and I’m so glad they didn’t.
“I was nervous and I just remember begging them to give us a bit more time.
“I was confident he’d be okay and we’d be good enough to get him through that period.”
Thompson credits ex-Cats player Paul Brown, then working at the club in player welfare, for helping Enright settle at Geelong.
“He (Brown) was the guy who got close to him, made the extra effort … you involve them, you get him included in things to do outside of football training,” Thompson said.
The meeting between parents and club proved one of the AFL’s great sliding-doors moments.
“Corey would have missed out, too. It was lucky,” Thompson said.
After some initial struggles with location, injury and form, Enright quickly found his feet.
Thompson was stumped when asked to remember the last time he saw Enright play a bad game.
“Once he got going after a couple of years, it was almost like you had to teach him how to play, and give him the games to play, and then once he learned the game, you didn’t have to coach him any more,” Thompson said
“He just turned up.
“He was just easy to coach and a great bloke.
“You just sit back and enjoy he’s a Geelong player, because he was such a good player.”
Thompson, who coached the Cats to the 2007 and ’09 premierships, rated Enright among the best five players during his time at the club.
He adds Enright is also “easily” among the best five people he has met during his decades in the game.
“Him and his best mate – (Matthew) Scarlett. Both of them are top blokes,” Thompson said.
“They’re wired the same way, I think.”