AARON Cadman has made a personal pledge to never again miss a finals series after being forced to watch from the sidelines as Greater Western Sydney surged to the preliminary final last September.
The 2022 No.1 draft pick was back at training at Giants headquarters on Monday along with the rest of the first-to-fourth-year players including new draftees Phoenix Gothard, James Leake, Joe Fonti, Harvey Thomas and Nathan Wardius.
Those fresh faces would have likely pinched themselves at certain moments as they rubbed shoulders with the AFL superstars who have now become their teammates.
Although not yet obligated to attend, nearly every experienced Giants player was on the track for the opening session alongside the youngsters, including skipper Toby Greene, Stephen Coniglio, Jesse Hogan, Josh Kelly, Sam Taylor and several others.
Cadman is still very much in the raw stage himself but the experience of watching on as the Giants won through to the preliminary final, only to miss out on a Grand Final spot by a point to Collingwood, is driving his pre-season desires.
"More fuel to the fire. I don't ever want to miss a finals season again," he said.
"It hurts to watch the team go down like that but hopefully if I can be a part of it this season, it'll be a different story."
The prospect of Cadman going to another level in 2024 and adding more ammunition to a talented Giants outfit is a scary one for fellow premiership contenders in 2024.
The 19-year-old has already added close to three kilograms of muscle to his frame in the off-season and is keen to pile on a couple more, but not at the expense of his main assets of pace and mobility for a key forward.
"I'm a smaller build to everyone so it's just about putting on those kilos in the gym and working hard with body-position type stuff. Coming up against bigger defenders can be hard but if I've got the IQ I think I can take it to anyone," he said.
"I don't want to add too much (weight) of course, I want to keep the mobility to be able to burn defenders when I need to.
"Hopefully this year will be the breakout year. Last season I was pretty happy with how it all went but I want to take it to the next step."
With his debut season out of the way, Cadman can go about achieving his goal without the spectre of the No.1 draft pick tag hanging over him.
That mantle has been transferred to West Coast's Harley Reid amid unprecedented hype and Cadman has some sound advice on how the new Eagle should attempt to handle it.
"I'm pretty good mates with Harley. I've seen it first-hand and it's (the hype) all real, I can tell you that. It's going to be exciting to watch that but what I'd tell him is just to take it all in," Cadman said.
"With the draft, your first training session, first game – it all goes so fast and you look back and think how good it was, so just take it all in and enjoy it while you can."
That message will likely be relayed to the Giants' new draftees as well, headlined by exciting small forward Phoenix Gothard who was snared with pick 12.
"Yeah, it's good you've got someone else to pick on now," Cadman said with a laugh.
"We had dinner with them and they're good kids, I'm super excited to see what they become. Some of the kicks they're doing, the way they run, the way they move, it's pretty exciting."
The presence of the established guns at the Giants from day one of pre-season is a clear sign that the squad is focused on not wasting a minute in their quest to go at least one step better in 2024.
"It gives everyone a boost. You see how committed they are and it just makes you want to work harder. It's just good to have that leadership around the young boys early," Cadman said.
"You can just feel the vibe out there, it was immaculate. Everyone was up and about, really loud. It's just a good place to be right now."