Brody Mihocek's last visit to UTAS Stadium provided him with one of his most special football memories, but Sunday's surprise showing is set to take things up a level.
Mihocek will be part of the Collingwood team that will face Hawthorn in Launceston in the Magpies' first match for premiership points in Tasmania.
It will also be the first time he has set foot on the ground since being part of Burnie Dockers' 2012 TSL premiership.
The 28-year-old on Wednesday said he couldn't wait for his first game as an AFL player in his home state, which has come about after Hawthorn moved the game from the MCG with no crowds allowed after Melbourne's most recent COVID-19 lockdown.
It is a dream come true in many ways for Mihocek after conceding it was unlikely he would get a chance to play in Tasmania with the Magpies, with COVID-19's impact providing a personal silver lining.
"It was a very surprising thing to happen and I was very excited once it happened,'' he said.
"It was talked about the week before that Hawthorn were thinking of having it there and I knew with what was going on in Victoria it was a big chance to get a good crowd. I had always hoped that a pre-season game would be played there for a Pies, but to actually have a game for premiership points is very exciting.
"I would have loved to have done a hub down there if it had come to that, but I don't think many of my teammates would have liked that as it does get pretty cold in Tassie, so I was all for this game and am excited to get back there.
"It will be great to have all the Pies supporters in Tasmania flock to the ground as it will be very special for them.
"I've probably forgotten a bit about the ground, like how big it is or how windy it gets there, but I'm sure when I get back out there I will remember again."
Sunday is set to be one of the high point of an up and down year for Mihocek, who said he was keen to put on a good show in Tasmania.
The key forward has kicked 31.30 and looks set for a third straight leading goal kicker award at the Pies, but admitted there had been times this year he had lost some of his enjoyment for the game.
This had come about, he said, through a variety of factors, be it the off-field dramas at the club, the change of coach from Nathan Buckley to caretaker Robert Harvey and the lack on on-field success, something he has not had to deal with previously.
Before Collingwood's drop down the ladder, Mihocek had played in finals in each of his first three seasons, including the 2018 grand final.
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"It has definitely been a difficult year and hard to remember the positives really throughout the season,'' said Mihocek, who has played 77 games and kicked 121 goals since being drafted from the VFL in the 2017 rookie draft.
"With my form I started off well but through the middle I did struggle a bit through not winning and not having the best form does take its toll mentally, but the last month and a bit I have managed to get in a good head space and enjoy playing footy again and not worry about the end result too much and not let that get to me.
"I am still getting my shots on goal, which is a definite positive, although I am annoyed with the way I have been kicking, but if I can turn that into a 50 goal season one year that will be good and I know at the end of the year I will be proud of what I have done this year.
"It can be hard as what goes on in the media and all the talk you here does get to you and when I got into this club success was very high and when you are not winning you try to find what the problem is and worry about that too much and lose the enjoyment.
"But once you know you are not in contention for finals you can play with a bit more freedom, which is a good thing."
The 14th-placed Pies will enter Sunday's clash feeling good about themselves after last weekend's 45-point win over West Coast, while 17th-placed Hawthorn also disposed of a top-eight side in Brisbane.
"We know we have been playing well for quarters here and there, but to do what we did in the first half [kicking 10 goals to one] was a good effort all round and something we hadn't done in a while,'' he said.
"We have been working on our offensive part of the game and we had talked all week that West Coast has been our modern rival and we wanted to one-up them and we focused on what we needed to to stop their ball movement.
"We kicked straight and moved the ball well and we will need to do that again. We will study them [Hawthorn] to take their strengths away from them, but they play that ground well.
"We will look to get an early jump on them like we did against West Coast."
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