Richmond triple premiership defender Dylan Grimes has revealed he was preparing to fly home after just two weeks in the Tigers' Queensland hub.
With wife Elisha back in Melbourne working on the couple's business (Mount Macedon Winery), Grimes' trip north was only meant to be short-lived.
Instead, the star stopper stayed beyond 100 days, his wife made the trip and he was a crucial cog in the Tigers' third flag in four years – one he described as the most satisfying of the lot.
"I haven't told anyone this, but I packed that light coming up here because Elisha, my wife, was in Melbourne," Grimes told Channel Nine on Sunday of the Tigers' departure on July 6.
"We were copping a lot of heat, Richmond players, for thinking about maybe not coming to the hub, there was a lot of talk.
"I thought I don't want to add to that, so I'll come for two weeks, do the two weeks and then I'm going to have to come back.
"The business, the farm… there was so much going on for us personally given COVID.
"We had staff we were trying to pay throughout this time, and it was really tough. In my mind I thought I was going to be here for two weeks and I'll be coming straight back."
Grimes pointed to the "mateship" and "bonds" built in the early days of the Tigers' hub life that swayed his decision to stay.
He added that the Tigers' COVID-19 protocol indiscretions only brought the group closer together with a turning point coming in early September when Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones were sent home.
"We had mistakes happen up here and it really cut you because we're a proud club and felt like we'd built a really strong culture," Grimes said.
"This one is the one I value the most by far."— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) October 25, 2020
Dylan Grimes on why this premiership means the most to him and the club, why he was close to leaving the hub and overcoming the challenges the Tigers faced in 2020.#9AFLSFS | Watch @channel9 pic.twitter.com/Tq7AefDoI0
"But I can see from the outside it didn't look like that.
"When it starts to look like that from the outside you think, 'Do we have this right, are we doing the right thing as leaders, as older players?'
"In the days after the incident where the guys (Stack and Coleman-Jones) left the hub, a lot of us were at rock bottom there.
"We felt as a playing group, as a club we'd been challenged. We played Geelong that week… it was a moment we had to galvanise."