Port Adelaide star Ollie Wines says the realisation that he's not a "silky smooth mid" helped propel him to the 2021 Brownlow medal, and he's glad the Power didn't let him leave two years ago.
Wines became the first Port player to win the AFL's most coveted individual award when he polled 36 votes in Sunday's thrilling count to edge out Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli (33) and Melbourne star Clayton Oliver (31).
The win was some consolation for Wines following the team's disastrous 71-point preliminary final loss to the Bulldogs.
Wines, who hails from the Murray River town of Echuca, considered leaving the Power at the end of 2019 in order to return to Victoria.
But with Wines still under contract, Port Adelaide didn't entertain the prospect of letting him go.
Wines is happy with how things have worked out, despite not yet having a premiership to his name.
"They never wanted to me to leave. It was probably myself thinking perhaps I've got to go somewhere else to get more out of my career," Wines said.
"To the club's credit they didn't let me ... and I'm thankful to this day, despite not winning a premiership or not playing in a grand final at this stage.
"I'm incredibly proud to still be at the club and glad I didn't go anywhere."
Wines has since re-signed with Port Adelaide until the end of 2026, and said it was his strong connection with his teammates that convinced him to stay long term.
"I saw in a few of those retirement speeches (about) what they'll miss most, and it's being in the locker room with the boys, and I can't see myself anywhere else," he said.
"We've formed a bond that's closer than most, and that's been a key to our success over the last couple of years, and I just want to be a part of that."
Wines elevated his form to a new level this year, averaging 32.4 possessions and 5.9 clearances per game.
The 26-year-old said simplifying his game had paid massive dividends.
"I probably accepted my role a little bit and understood I wasn't going to be the silky smooth mid that carved outside the contest," Wines said.
"All Ken (Hinkley) needed from me week in, week out was to put my head over the ball inside and dish it to the guys on the outside, who were the creative, more talented players.
"I don't think I've got a lot of talent, but probably as my Mum said ... I'm a bit of a stayer and will stick it tough to the end and grind it out.
"So once I simplified my game a little bit more, everything just clicked from there."