IT WAS one of those sliding door moments.
If St Kilda had been downing bottles of champagne in celebration after the 2009 grand final and not drowning their sorrows in a coldie or three after losing a titanic battle against Geelong, things might've been a little different for the Gold Coast Suns.
Having achieved a second premiership with the Cats, Gary Ablett was satisfied with his lot, and would sign a five-year deal to play with the Suns from their debut season in 2011.
Having been denied leading the Saints to just its second ever flag, Nick Riewoldt would spurn advances by the Suns to shift back home.
Though born in Tasmania, Big 'Roo' is considered a Gold Coast boy, having moved there with his family when he was nine. As a gangly teen, he honed his skills with Broadbeach and then Southport, before being selected by St Kilda with the No.1 pick in the 2000 National Draft.
The blonde bombshell has gone on to become a Saints legend, winning five best-and-fairest awards and captaining the club in 131 games (behind only Danny Frawley's 177).
But, he did hint in 2008 he may have been tempted back to the Coast, where his family still resides, if a premiership had become part of his CV.
"If I was able to taste the ultimate success in the next few years ... I suppose there would be that possibility," he said.
Now 29, Riewoldt will play out his days at St Kilda, whether it claims that elusive second flag - which it narrowly missed again in 2010 - or not.
But, while Gold Coast can't complain about eventually gaining the services of the game's No.1 player, no doubt it would've loved getting local boy Riewoldt too - and, who knows, maybe even both he and Ablett.
While seen as a champion in decline in 2011, Riewoldt is showing he is far from a spent force in 2012, and gave the Gold Coast a stark reminder on Saturday night of what he can do, leading the Saints to another massive win over the Suns with a best-on-ground display.
He kicked seven goals, his third his 500th career major - the 53rd time ever, and fourth time this year, the milestone has been reached.
There has been the odd bit of behaviour, and I mean odd - such as posing for a certain photograph with teammate Sam Gilbert - but, by and large, Riewoldt has been an absolute role model … an ornament to the game and all that.
Speaking of champions and 'what ifs', earlier in the day, Matthew Pavlich led Fremantle to an upset win over a Richmond at the MCG by turning back the clock to boot six goals - the first time he's slotted five or more in a game since 2008.
Of course it was 1999, when the Tigers would make one of their infamous draft day blunders by selecting eventual disappointment Aaron Fiora with the No.3 pick.
Pavlich would be chosen by the Dockers with the very next pick and go on and winning six All-Australian jumpers and setting club records for best and fairests (6), games played (267), games as captain (121), consecutive games (160) and goals (509) - while knocking back attempts by the Crows to entice him to return to his home state, South Australia.
As well as skill and leadership, durability and loyalty have been career hallmarks of both Riewoldt and Pavlich.
TOP GOALKICKERS (Current players)
- 514 Jonathan Brown (BL) 218 games
- 512 Stephen Milne (SK) 247
- 509 Matthew Pavlich (Frem) 266
- 504 Nick Riewoldt (SK) 230
- 489 Lance Franklin (Haw) 153
- 387 Brent Harvey (NM) 333
- 375 Steve Johnson (Geel) 185
- 364 Adam Goodes (Syd) 305
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