There is being the coach’s favourite and then there is the coach naming his dog after you.
North Melbourne premiership player Anthony Rock experienced this with Denis Pagan who opted to name his dog after the diminutive hard nut.
“He did (name his dog after me). He always describes it to people as someone who can be really affectionate, but also turn around and bite you,” Rock told This is Your Sporting Life for Tobin Brothers - celebrating lives.
“And that’s probably me a little bit. I’m a pretty emotional person. I care a lot for people, but sometimes I don’t suffer fools too easily.”
Rock, who was coached by Pagan at under 19s level, said he knew from day one that Denis was the guy to take the Roos to the next level.
“The first day (Denis) took over, it was in 1993, we were playing Geelong the next day and got told Denis was going to be the coach so we drove to where we were playing Geelong and he outlined a very, very simply game plan,” Rock said.
“In the early ‘90s Geelong was a powerhouse and we ended up losing that practice match by about seven points, but I felt that that was a step in the right direction.
“We were able to implement what he gave us in half an hour.
“We had enough talent we just needed direction and that simplicity of game plan.
“It was a build and it was a learning process for us and we got into a few Prelims we should’ve won.”
The 222-gamer was close to best on ground in North Melbourne’s 1996 Grand Final victory and was nearly brought to tears talking about the day.
“I seriously think that was the best game I ever played and to do it on such an occasion, in front of 100,000 fans, I remember I was pretty banged up after the game,” Rock said.
“I received a pretty heavy knock from Paul Kelly about four minutes in and sort of saw black and I sort of came through.
“I said I can’t miss this, you just can’t miss (a Grand Final), nowadays you’d be off the ground doing a concussion test and you’d be off the ground and not allowed to play.
“It was just one of those games where I couldn’t have given any more so it was a really great feeling.
“It was a love-hate (relationship). He was my under 19s coach and he’s probably the greatest influence on my career.”
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Listen to Anthony Rock's chat on This is Your Sporting Life with Peter Donegan in the player below, thanks to Tobin Brothers: