Jackson Hately may have joined the GIANTS from South Australian club Central Districts but his debut at UNSW Canberra Oval on Saturday will be like playing at home.
The GIANTS’ 93rd AFL player knows the nation’s capital well; in fact, he was born there.
While Hately and his family moved back to Adelaide when he was two, the now 18-year-old has deep connections to the place of his birth.
Everything's Bigger Up Close - get your tickets to watch Jackson Hately debut on Saturday as the GIANTS take on Fremantle at UNSW Canberra Oval.
The hard running, big-bodied midfielder is expecting a large family presence at UNSW Canberra Oval when he runs out on to take on Fremantle.
“Mum’s parents are still there, and her brothers and sisters are still there too so I’ll have plenty of cousins around the place,” he said.
“It’s pretty special to have that support there for my first game. I’ll let Mum and Dad sort out the tickets but I’m pretty sure there’ll be a few people there."
His story isn’t unlike GIANTS co-captain Phil Davis, who was also born in Canberra before moving to Adelaide at 12.
It was, however, coincidence that led to Davis announcing Hately’s debut at the end of Wednesday’s team meeting rather than their uncanny shared experience.
“We had the usual team meeting where we go through the opposition and how we’re going to go about it, and at the end Leon said Phil had an announcement,” Hately recounts.
“It was pretty special to find out there and all the boys got around me.
“When Phil started talking, I started to figure out it was about me and it was like ‘wow, it’s actually going to happen’ so it was an amazing feeling.
“He didn’t use it (their similar story) in the talk but we do have a bit of a connection, he’s been one who’s really looked after me since day one, as have all the senior guys.
“And Dad taught him too which is pretty funny, it was an honour to have him present me the guernsey.”
In another coincidence, Hately’s father Nick was Phil Davis’ high school teacher.
Hately isn’t daunted by the fact that he’s coming into the side for the GIANTS’ other co-captain Callan Ward, he’s just focused on supporting his injured leader.
The two have formed a strong relationship since Hately arrived at the club at pick 14 in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, given they’re neighbours in the locker room and work alongside each other in the midfield.
“He’s been unbelievable Cal and it was incredibly sad to see him go down. I was a bit shocked by it,” he said.
“Like Phil, I can’t speak highly enough of Cal, he’s one of the best blokes I’ve ever met.
“I’m looking forward to supporting him over the next 12 months and beyond.”