GWS Giant Josh Fahey felt like he was only "a few good matches" away from making his AFL debut before he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in the VFL.
Despite the disappointment of missing that chance the medium defender's future at the club is now secured, with the 18-year-old signing on until the end of 2025.
The Canberran will not be heading home this weekend for the Giants' clash against the Brisbane Lions at Manuka Oval on Saturday, instead helping to coach the backline of the club's VFL side.
The Giants are looking to defeat the Lions for the first time since 2019, and will be boosted by the return of Jacob Hopper, Xavier O'Halloran, Connor Idun and Jake Riccardi this weekend.
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While Hopper will return from a long-term knee injury, the Giants have lost Phil Davis for the rest of the season after sustaining a hamstring injury in last weekend's loss to Port Adelaide.
Despite being sidelined until at least the next pre-season, Fahey was excited to be staying at the club long-term, the youngster thankful for the belief the Giants have shown in him.
"It gives me great confidence. Coming through the academy they have given me an opportunity that not many people get," he said.
"I am grateful for that, but it is time to repay them because they have put their full faith and confidence in me to become a good AFL player. I'm going to put everything into it that I can to have a successful career."
After playing a handful of VFL games, the Canberran was confident an AFL debut was just around the corner before his season-ending injury.
He has instead had to regroup, preparing for a big 2023 as he looked to stamp his authority on a starting position.
"It was disappointing getting injured, but I guess that is a part of footy and there is not much you can do," he said. "I was pretty close, I just needed a couple of good performances. I was pushing for a spot, hoping for selection some time around the middle of the year mark. I felt like I was putting my best foot forward to give myself the best chance."
The injury and time on the sidelines has been tough on the 18-year-old, however it has given him a deeper appreciation of the opportunities awarded to him by the Giants.
Selected with the 42nd pick in the 2021 draft, playing for GWS has always been his dream since joining their academy as a junior.
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"I think it makes you a lot more grateful for the opportunity that you get, and value it that little bit extra in every training session that you do. Sitting on the sidelines it has been pretty tough to watch," he said.
It may not be this season, but Fahey was eager for the opportunity of playing at his home ground. It will likely be a family affair when the day does come, with his father Tom the head curator at Manuka Oval.
"Playing at Manuka would certainly be something special to me, obviously the home ground where I grew up," he said.
"That's a massive goal of mine and would be an absolute dream come true to be able to play there one day."
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