Soon after arriving at Fremantle, Ross Lyon called it as he saw it with forward Michael Walters.
Now Walters calls him friend.
"He gave me a bit of a kick in the bum last year, and it got me on track," Walters told AAP.
"He's brought a lot of friendship and I can't fault the support he's given me over the past two years."
There was no doubt about the 22-year-old forward's ability, nor about his workrate when at training.
But Walters says Lyon wanted him to work harder on his diet and overall fitness levels, believing he wasn't doing enough on his own away from the club to back up his hard work on the track.
The tough love from the Dockers coach has Walters coming off a best-ever season, a terrific finals series, and bound for a grand final at the MCG on Saturday in just his 42nd AFL game.
"The training was always there. It was just things off-field, diet and stuff like that which he helped me out with and I can't thank him enough," Walters said of Lyon.
Now Walters is a critical part of a Dockers' side noted for its defensive pressure all around the ground.
Lapping up the atmosphere of Friday's grand final parade with his 20-month-old daughter Laila in tow, Walters knows he's come a long way since spending much of 2012 in exile at WAFL club Swan Districts.
"It's good for the club, it's good for all the young boys, and it's even better for the guys who've been here for a lot of years and haven't really got this opportunity," Walters said.
"Now they've got it - blokes like Pav (skipper Matthew Pavlich).
"It's just a good experience for all of us."