When Jarryd Lyons arrived at the Gold Coast Suns last year he didn’t know what to expect.
The Queensland club had battled on the field, and off it, appeared resigned to losing the likes of Jaeger O’Meara and Dion Prestia.
Upon walking inside the club’s four walls, however, everything was different to what had been suggested.
“Before I came to the Coast everyone said the culture of the club was poor,” Lyons told Aflplayers.com.au.
“But I’ve been nothing more than impressed. The boys have worked really hard and that was obvious from day one of pre-season.
“Obviously you hear things in the media, and you can speculate, but it’s definitely different to what I thought it would be like.”
If it wasn’t for coach Rodney Eade’s sales pitch, things could have quite easily been different.
Plenty of clubs were interested in the 24-year-old who had managed 20 games for the Crows in 2016. Yet, it was the Suns who eventually won the Victorian’s signature.
“I had a meeting with Rocket and all the club’s support staff. They spoke well and were open and honest with me about where the club was going and that sat well with me.
“It all happened so quickly during the second week of the trade period.”
After 55 games with the Crows, Lyons was intent on making a statement in the infancy of his Gold Coast career joining the likes of Michael Barlow, Pearce Hanley and Jarrod Witts as experienced heads to move to Metricon.
Making a statement can be a difficult task when switching clubs for the first time, but Lyons went the extra mile to get to know his new teammates.
“It was honestly like being a kid at their first day at school,” Lyons added.
“I came over a little bit earlier with Michael Barlow and trained with the younger boys just to make sure we got to know a few blokes before rocking up on the first full day of pre-season.
“You get into a routine at a footy club and that gets disrupted when you move. You have to start it again, and I’ve enjoyed doing that and changing it up.”
As his first pre-season in Queensland progressed, he grew closer to midfield coaches Matthew Primus and Dean Soloman.
They’re a duo Lyons says have had the greatest influence on his career since moving north.
“I’ve worked really closely with Matty and Dean, they’ve been terrific to bounce off,” the former Sandringham Dragon explained.
“They were both very good players in their own right, premiership players, so I’ve kept a really close relationship with them.”
But perhaps the biggest change he made in his move to the Suns was his position within the playing group.
Before having a career-best year in 2016, Lyons spent the majority of his time at the Crows on the fringes of selection but, after joining the Suns, was suddenly a leader.
“I went from basically middle of the pack to being a senior straight away. I wouldn’t say that position within the club was a challenge, I would say it was more of a shock.
“I just had to bring what I learned at the Crows and they’re a great club in that regard.”
Lyons has further improved his game this season, averaging 25.6 disposals — above last year’s average of 21.65 — which may put him on a pedestal as one of the best recruits in 2017.
And it’s that form which Lyons wants to continue for the remainder of the season, while seeing the team continue to improve.
“The way I’ve played in the last two weeks is the benchmark I’ve set for myself,” Lyons said.
“Prior to that, I had been playing like the team has — a little bit inconsistent. It would be nice to bridge that gap from your poor performances to your best.
“As a team, we are in no position to look forward beyond each week, but the evenness of the competition makes it almost a final for us each week from here on in.”