After five years of limited opportunity at Richmond, Oleg Markov believes being valued at Gold Coast will bring out his best footy.
Drafted with pick No.50 in 2015, Markov played just 23 games in five seasons with the Tigers and didn't feature in a single final as the club won three AFL premierships in his time at Punt Road.
The 24-year-old move has reaped instant reward, Markov featuring in all five of the Suns' matches so far in 2021.
"I wanted to walk into an environment where no- one knew who I was," Markov told AAP.
"No-one had any pre-conceived ideas. I wasn't there from the age of 18-19.
"I can come in and be whoever I wanted to be.
"I feel I'm important and I feel like Dewy (coach Stuart Dew) wants me here.
"It is refreshing and it gives you a bit more confidence to play.
"I just wanted to be playing at the highest level I can, and coming into an environment like this has given me that opportunity. I'm very blessed and grateful for that."
Markov said last year's hub on the Gold Coast convinced him it was time to quit the Tigers.
The last of his six appearances in 2020 came in round 17, with returning stalwarts such as Dion Prestia, Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli once again squeezing Markov out of Richmond's 22.
It meant he could only watch as the Tigers went on to win the grand final at the Gabba, an experience he admits was a hard one.
"Last year was quite hard because of COVID and just felt like a long, long pre-season if you weren't in the senior side," he said.
"We were constantly training, playing scrimmages, and although that was competitive and fun, it still felt like training.
"You didn't have that same release that a lot of the other boys had."
Decision made to leave Richmond, Markov said he didn't have to look far to decide Gold Coast was where he wanted to land next.
"Once we had the hub up here and saw what winter was like and how much happier I was, it was a no-brainer for me," he said.
"The moment that was done I was just lying at the beach ... I just remember I felt light, felt free, felt rejuvenated.
"One hundred and thirty days I hadn't been home and I wasn't concerned about packing up or anything. I was more excited, get it all in a box and send it up."