Coming off a career-best season in which he was awarded All Australian honours and was a joint winner of the Kevin Sheedy Medal, how does Nick Haynes plan on tackling 2021?
By getting better, once again.
“I think I’ve improved every year I’ve been at the GIANTS and this year I’m looking to do the same,” Haynes said on the first official day of pre-season training.
“I’m looking towards more of the offensive side of my game and looking to improve that.
“Having Lachie Whitfield down there - he’s the pinnacle of the competition on that half-back line - so I’ll be latching on to him this pre-season and trying to learn a lot off him.
“My body feels great, obviously the less contact the better for me.
“It feels really good after three months off; obviously we were still training pretty hard but you don’t get those bumps and bruises so the body feels fresh and really good.”
With the senior players not due back until January 6, it’s been the longest break in Haynes’ nine-year career.
He joined some familiar faces at the club pre-Christmas but Wednesday was the first time the entire 2021 squad was together for the first time.
They were, as usual, welcomed back with a 2km time trial.
“I’m good now,” he laughed.
“Every club goes through their 2km and 3km time trials and there were a few nervous boys this morning.
“It’s been our longest break from the club we’ve ever had. It’s the first time I’ve come back in January so it’s been a long time off but the body feels good, a lot of people ran good times and the spirit’s up and about.”
Haynes said the focus at the moment is about coming together as a group ahead of round one, which is just 73 days away.
“To be all as one group now and to be all together and gel, the next 10 weeks are really important for us to build a good system and build some good footy for round one,” Haynes said.
“We’ve had a lot of changes to our list and a lot of young boys coming in so it’s about gelling as a group and making sure we’re all on the same page.
“We’ve got a lot of learning to do over the next few weeks and we’ll implement on the track and build some good habits so when round one rolls around, we want to start with that winning form.”
With six young draftees, along with new recruits in Jesse Hogan and Braydon Preuss, Haynes is relishing the vibe around the club.
He’s also eager to see the impact the next generation can have on the side come season 2021.
"It almost feels new and fresh … I’m feeling really old this year,” he laughed.
“It’s young and fresh and exciting.
“A lot of these young boys - second and third-year players - have come back really strong and fit and I’m really looking forward to them showing what they can do over pre-season.
“There’ll be a lot of new faces playing their first games this year and I’m really excited to play alongside them.”