GREATER Western Sydney star Tom Scully's horror 2018 is officially over.
Scully hasn't played at any level since he suffered a serious injury in round two against Collingwood at the MCG, in what proved to be his sole senior appearance for the season.
After missing the JLT Community Series with a knee issue, the 27-year-old fractured the fibula in his right ankle and suffered a syndesmosis injury after being caught in an awkward tackle in the opening quarter against the Magpies.
The Giants initially hoped he would return in the second half of the season after recovering from surgery, but Scully's rehabilitation hasn't gone to plan, and any faint hopes he had of getting back before the finals have been dashed.
His fracture has healed well, but the syndesmosis and some bone bruising have combined to slow the midfielder's progress, to a point where the club's medical staff decided to spell him now to give him a chance to begin his preparation for next year.
In an exclusive interview with AFL.com.au, Scully said that over the past couple of weeks, he knew his chances of playing again in 2018 were gone.
"No doubt it's disappointing, but at the same time you try and remove yourself from the emotion of it all. Once I processed it, I had to think about what's best for my future moving forward," he said.
"I can't get away from the fact that it was a pretty traumatic injury.
"As much as I'd love to say that I can still play a part in the season and contribute to the team, we came to a point where we had to be realistic.
"Sometimes you just have to face the hand you've been dealt and move on.
"Realistically we realised that time was getting away from us, we weren't seeing the progress we would have liked, and I had a little setback with my running and had to back off my training loads.
"You can't take any shortcuts with an injury like this, and unfortunately it hasn't worked out the way we'd planned."
The absence of the team's most elite runner has been one of many blows for GWS on the injury front this season, with Scully's previous two years establishing him amongst the best wingmen in the competition.
He finished second behind Toby Greene in the 2016 Kevin Sheedy medal, and backed that up by coming fifth last year.
During that period, Scully averaged 23.8 possessions and kicked 38 goals while playing 48 of a possible 49 games, including all five of the Giants' finals.
Scully will have his ankle scanned before the end of the regular season and from there, will sit down with the club's medical team to plan his next move.
Despite the significance of his injury, the Giants' time-trial king said he hopes to be ready for pre-season training, and is determined to get back to his best next year.
"I've got a clear understanding of what I need to do to get it right, and I still feel like I have a lot of football in front of me," Scully said.
"It's been a real challenge and it's frustrating, but I've come to terms with it.
"The decision (to call time on this season) was based around the thinking that if I wasn't going to get back, let's not waste any more time and start focusing on 2019.
"I've had good consultations with the medical staff and the surgeon and they're confident there'll be no lasting effects on my football down the track."
With GWS sitting third heading into round 21 and back in premiership contention after winning eight of their past nine games, Scully is well aware what other challenges he faces this season.
But far from getting down about what he will miss out on, the renowned team man said he's proud of what the Giants have done to turn their season around, and is excited by what they could possibly achieve.
"The boys are really focused, and the last two months has been really positive for our club," he said.
"We've had a number of players in key positions that have gone out injured, but guys like Lachie Whitfield and Adam Tomlinson have been able to fill different roles, and it's a credit to them the way they've been able to adapt and apply themselves.
"It speaks of the flexibility of the group, and we're building some nice momentum coming into the last few weeks of the season."