KEY FORWARD Adam Tomlinson earned his spot in the senior side after dominating the NEAFL as a midfielder, but it's in defence that he'll be of most value for Greater Western Sydney's during this year's finals.
Tomlinson, who was dropped from Leon Cameron's team three times before the mid-season bye, refused to give up on his dream of running out with his teammates in September, and his patience paid off.
The 23-year-old struggled early in the season, but churned out some amazing numbers in the reserves, averaging 32 touches and 10 marks in nine games, including a 52-possession effort against the Brisbane Lions in round eight.
Cameron knew the versatile Victorian deserved another chance, which came in round 16 when Tomlinson's request for the job on Collingwood forward Travis Cloke was granted, and while that day didn't pan out as he'd hoped – the big Magpie kicked four goals and took 12 marks, but was later fined by the AFL for wearing a non-approved glove – Tomlinson hasn't missed a game since.
"I really do love playing in the backline, it's a team within a team," he told AFL.com.au this week.
"Playing with Phil (Davis) and 'Heater' (Heath Shaw) gives you a lot of confidence.
"If you take a pretty bold position by standing in front of the forwards, it's because you know that you've got Phil behind you telling you to do it and it forces you to do it.
"They give you confidence in how you play your football and this is the most settled I've felt in a position for a while and it has given me a lot of confidence, especially over the past month."
One of the Giants' most gifted athletes, Tomlinson's versatility had often been his downfall, but as a powerful runner and gifted ball user – he's going at 80 per cent disposal efficiency this year – he's added valuable support for co-captain Phil Davis and Joel Patfull inside the back 50.
That trio will have their hands full in next week's qualifying final against the Sydney Swans, and Tomlinson said he's prepared himself for some time guarding Lance Franklin in the club's biggest ever match.
"Phil (Davis) has done some pretty good jobs on him over the years but we take the two biggest talls, so I guess I'll find myself on him at some stage, which is exciting," he said.
"It's not just (Lance) Franklin and (Kurt) Tippett anymore though, they've had some new faces come in.
"Xavier Richards is playing some pretty good footy and so has (Sam) Naismith when he's gone forward.
"They've had a lot of young boys come in and those smaller forwards have been doing some damage.
"You don't win a minor premiership for no reason."
Like many of his young teammates, Tomlinson has put up with the pain of the club's lean early years as an original Giant, which he said makes next week's clash with the Swans even more memorable.
"It's something pretty special being part of a finals series, especially having been part of the club since it started," he said.
"It's the reason why a lot of us have re-signed over the last couple of years.
"I've played footy with Devon (Smith), Jonny Patton and Dylan Shiel since I was 11 years old, with Toby Greene since I was 15 or 16, and I've know 'Haynesy' (Nick Haynes) since I was born pretty much, so it's something pretty special.
"The amount of trust we have in each other, we've been through a lot together in our first few years but you never forget it, so you look back now and know it was worth it.
"I was so excited and worked up on adrenalin walking out last Saturday night against North Melbourne, and I can just imagine the Swans at ANZ Stadium will be even better, and I can't wait."