It must have been baby steps at first for Andy Mack as he introduced himself to AFL and the Bulldogs, who would reserve a special place in his big country heart.
Eight years later, and the 28-year-old has become one of the most lethal offensive threats in the competition, after Bulldogs coach Doug Meagher this year untethered him from the defensive role he had long played.
Put simply, Mack has been a revelation at full forward - teaming with Victorian import Jaydon Stiles to form the competition's most devastating one-two combination.
The duo again lit up the scoreboard when Gunnedah remained undefeated with a 119-point demolition of the Nomads at Wolseley Oval on a warm, cloudless spring day.
The final score of 26-15 (171) to 8-4 (52) underlined Gunnedah's premiership credentials, and they will be raging hot favourites to win back-to-back titles when the grand final is staged at Wolseley Oval on September 26.
With one round remaining, the third-placed Nomads are four points behind the second-placed Swans - who have a significant percentage advantage over New England.
Against the Nomads, in the penultimate round, Mack booted six majors to take his season tally to 36 (he went into the round two goals behind second-placed Kaleb Crowhurst of the Swans), while Stiles bagged nine majors (he kicked 15 behinds) to improve to 64 goals for the season.
After being sidelined last year with a knee injury, thereby missing the chance for a second premiership, Mack is being swept along by the torrent that is Gunnedah's rapid-fire offence, their seemingly unassailable momentum and his own good form: no team has challenged them in 2020.
Post-match on Saturday, Mack reflected on where he came from in AFL after joining the Bulldogs in 2012 following a first-grade stint with the Red Devils - lured to the rival code by mates such as John Woolaston, Andrew George and Scott Hardy. The four friends are still teammates, and are savouring a golden era for the club.
"It's been the most enjoyable time I've ever had playing sport," Mack said of his Dogs tenure. "In the early days we struggled a little bit ... but we stuck at it: just enjoyed each other's company more so than anything else."
Experiencing those lean years, he said, "makes these times that much more enjoyable".
Mack, who kicked some beautiful goals on Saturday, said his brother James had been a full-forward option at one stage.
"He [Meagher] said it was between James and myself: he's got the better hands but I'm the better kick, apparently," Mack said.