Jack Steven came close to AFL retirement this season as he dealt with his mental health issues.
But the new Geelong recruit ended the year with a renewed love of the game and is confident he can return quickly to top form.
The four-time St Kilda best and fairest was granted his wish on the last day of the trade period when the Cats and Saints reached a deal.
Steven, 29, only managed seven senior games this season because of his mental health struggles.
Asked on Thursday if he had considered walking away from the game, Steven simply responded: “Yes” before reconsidering.
“I love playing … I still wanted to play.
“I don’t think my footy dies down that quickly, it’s just my fitness and getting to happy, healthy state,” he added.
“It (having a break) had to happen. Everyone reacts differently to mental health. Some people can deal with it better than others and I just needed to take a break. It was the right thing to do.”
Steven’s parents and his wider family live near Geelong and that prompted his wish for a move to the Cats.
“I will just be nice and comfortable … get fit again, get happy, get healthy, that’s just what I’m aiming to do,” he said.
Steven said there were a few nervous moments during the trade negotiations and he also stressed his gratitude to St Kilda.
“It was touch and go maybe for a little bit, but it worked out pretty well,” he said.
“I was still contracted at St Kilda, so I understood there was still a process there.
“If it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen. Obviously the Saints are a great club as well and it wasn’t all doom and gloom, but I was really happy to come down to the Cats.
“I owe a lot to them. I’m really thankful and I still love the club, but super-stoked to be down here.”
Steven, who played a year at the Geelong Falcons before joining St Kilda at 17, returned early from a holiday in Hawaii to start settling in.
He intends to be ready for round one and will play “whatever role I’m told”.