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A fit Lachie Whitfield takes a giant step forwards

Lachie Whitfield of the Giants celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL round 01 match between the GWS Giants and the Sydney Swans at Giants Stadium, Sydney on March 15, 2014. (Photo: Anthony Pearse/AFL Media)
Lachie Whitfield loved the start to the season, beating the Swans, but it soon turned sour for him and the Giants
It was quite emotional, actually, just thinking that my season could be over
Lachie Whitfield on the foot injury that derailed his early season
A LITTLE more than a month since Lachie Whitfield feared his season could be over with a mystery foot injury, the talented teenager produced the best game of his AFL career against last year's premiers.

The Giants midfielder gathered 32 disposals – the best tally of his young career – in Greater Western Sydney's seven-point loss to Hawthorn on Sunday.

But only weeks ago the Giants midfielder feared he might not play again at all in 2014, after a bad reaction to a seemingly innocuous injury against St Kilda in round two.

The 19-year-old's foot swelled up and nobody was quite sure of its severity.

"It's an interesting injury. It was a bit of an unknown. I had a little bit of trouble with the bone," Whitfield told AFL.com.au.

"At the first instance I thought it would be one-to-two weeks, then I thought it was the season, then they told me it was three-to-four weeks. It was one of those ones."

It ended up being five weeks out of the senior side for the 2012 No.1 draft pick, but he thought it could be much worse after struggling through his recovery early on.

"I tried to do a running session two weeks after hurting it and could barely get above 50 per cent pace, so that was quite a tough time," he said.

"It was quite emotional, actually, just thinking that my season could be over so early into it.

"The physio staff were great and I did rehab as they planned and it was good to get back in just the five weeks."

Whitfield and the Giants can be relieved that was the case, particularly given his effort against the Hawks. He was smart with the ball and always looked composed, strong features of his game.

He said the Giants, who finished last in 2013, came into the game believing their best could match it with the reigning premiers despite successive 100-plus point thrashings in the previous two games.

"Every quarter time huddle you sort of glance up and see the score, because to be honest when you're on the field you don’t really know what it is," Whitfield said.

"Halfway through the last quarter everyone had such a great belief. We even did at the start of the game, we knew if we gave our best performance we'd come close.

"Obviously we've had a tough two weeks and it doesn't hurt as much, but it's pretty close. It's a different sort of pain getting so close and the boys put in a great effort today."

Playing at the MCG also had "a bit more gravitas" for Whitfield, who came up against a Peninsula School mate Billy Hartung for the first time.

The pair also played together for the Dandenong Stingrays in the TAC Cup, and shared a brief chat on the field when Hartung was subbed into the game in the third term.

Whitfield, who grew up an avid Hawthorn fan, said he and the Giants enjoy playing at the ground.

"I love playing on the 'G, it's the best stage in Australia," he said.

"A lot of the boys are Victorians so we've grown up coming here and watching teams like the Hawks play great footy here, so it’s quite special for us.

"It's our first game for the year here so I think we might get that extra 10 per cent when we play here."

Twitter: @AFL_CalTwomey