DAYLE Garlett says being overlooked at last year's national draft was the wake-up call he needed to turn his life and footy career around.
The midfielder said he was desperate to come to Victoria to escape, as he put it, too many people he knew in Perth.
But if the interest in Garlett as he attended his first Hawthorn training session yesterday is anything to go, the scrutiny of his actions in Melbourne will be just as intense as the fishbowl environment he has left.
His transition from wayward teenager making a name for himself in the WAFL to AFL footballer will be helped, in the short term at least, by Luke Hodge.
The Hawthorn captain will house the 19-year-old until the club embarks on its pre-season trip to South Africa next month.
Hodge said yesterday Garlett deserved a chance to prove himself at AFL level after he was snubbed by all 18 clubs last year for behavioural issues.
"It was just me coming to my senses and focusing on my footy and realising what was important in life, that if I made AFL footy I'd have a great future," Garlett said.
"After the draft last year, the first thing that came to my mind was that there is no second chances.
"I had a couple of weeks to think about what I wanted to do with my life and coming back to footy training from then on, that's when it clicked to say I wanted to play AFL footy."
Asked why he was so keen to leave Western Australia, Garlett said: "I just know so much (sic) people in Perth and once I got out of WA and over to Victoria I'd just be a nobody and so I can just focus on my football."
Hodge said Hawthorn players supported the club's decision take a punt on Garlett.
"He's at my house for the first week before we go away on camp so I will get to know him a lot better then," Hodge said.
"We (Hawthorn's leadership group) always speak to Wrighty (list manager Graham Wright) before the draft and he throws questions at us.
"I did speak to him beforehand and he did mention that if Dayle was available at our second pick we would look at taking him and I had no issues with that.
"Young guys make mistakes. He has made major improvements in the last 12 months off the field. Everyone knows he has always had the ability on the field. The club is very happy with how he has mproved.
"He missed last year's draft because of the off-field issues, but footy clubs these days do a lot of research and the club has been in touch a fair bit over the past 12 months, seeing how he is, and I think he has come a long way.
"We've brought in three exciting young players, Dayle has probably been the one spoken about the most. He has played a lot of senior footy as well, so he is ready for the physical contact."
The No.38 pick said that despite having contact with Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson throughout the year, he had not taken anything for granted before hearing his name called out on Thursday night.
"Since I was 17 the club has been in touch with me, interested in me," Garlett said.
"Clarko sent me a bit of advice and stuff ... just keep your head down and focus on footy.
"There was always that little bit in my mind saying (an AFL career) wouldn't happen, but I had a little bit of confidence saying it would, which made me focus on my footy a bit more."
"He missed last year's draft because of the off field issues, but footy clubs these days do a lot research and the club has been in touch a fair bit over the past 12 months, seeing how he is. And I think he has come a long way."
"Watching his tape - as you guys have as well - we've brought in three exciting young players. Dayle has probably the one spoken about the most.
"But to see some of the things the kids coming through can do - they are a lot bigger than they used to be - and he has played a lot of senior footy as well, so he is ready for the physical contact."
Garlett spent this season playing for Swan Districts in the WAFL was picked up by the Hawks with pick 38 at last Thursday's national draft.
Hodge was speaking at the launch of the AFL Players' Association Players' Trust, an initiative that will see money made available to former players facing hardship.