GIANTS midfielder Jye Caldwell had no idea he would making his debut in Friday night’s clash with Hawthorn.

On Thursday evening the 18-year-old was about to enter the land of nod when he received a call that would see him become the GIANTS’ 97th AFL player. 

“I was just lying in bed I was about to nod off actually, I was pretty tired,” Caldwell told GIANTS TV after his debut.

“Brett Hand (GIANTS Head of Development and Welfare) gave me a phone call saying pack your bags because you’ve got a seven o’clock flight.

“I thought ‘righto I better get going here’, it was exciting and very stressful.”

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While Caldwell was named as one of the GIANTS emergencies, he didn’t travel with the team but when midfielder Jacob Hopper was injured during the GIANTS’ captain’s run on Thursday afternoon he had little time for the news to sink in.

He also had little time to let his family know what might be unfolding. Despite the last-minute call up, Caldwell’s family managed to get to UNSW Canberra Oval for the evening fixture, driving from Bendigo in country Victoria to the nation’s capital. 

“They drove up this morning (Friday), it was only a five-hour drive so they thought they may as well drive rather than fly,” Caldwell said.

“I had some mates here and it was good to see them up here." 

While Caldwell was delighted to have his family there, the highlight of his debut came when injured GIANTS co-captain Callan Ward presented the first-gamer with his GIANTS guernsey.

Ward spoke glowingly of the young GIANT and said he claimed Caldwell as his ‘favourite player’ when he arrived at the club.

“I love the way you go about it and the way you train,” Ward said before the game on Friday.

“You show some real leadership amongst the first year boys, you should be proud of yourself.”

Caldwell, who gathered 13 disposals, took five marks and laid six tackles in a tough night for the GIANTS, was touched by Ward’s words.

“That was very special, he’s probably the main person I look up to at the club,” he said. 

“I feel like we play the same and what he said was really touching.”

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