GREATER Western Sydney has secured another key piece of its long-term future with defender Nick Haynes re-signing with the club for a further two years.
Haynes, a foundation Giant who wasn't due to come out of contract until the end of next season, approached the club about a new deal 12 months early, and is now committed until at least the end of the 2019 season.
The 24-year-old, one of the game's most exciting young defenders with his clean ball handling and composure under pressure, is ranked fifth in the competition for intercept possessions, ninth for intercept marks, and has an elite Champion Data ranking for intercept marks.
In an exclusive interview with AFL.com.au this week, Haynes said he had no hesitation in approaching his management team to negotiate his third contract, ahead of what should be an historic first finals campaign for the Giants.
"I've never had any doubt in my mind that I want to stay here long term, so I thought there was no reason to put it off," Haynes said.
"I've been here from the start and watched the club grow, and have spent five years with a lot of the same boys here.
"We were all young boys when we came into the competition and got belted around the park nearly every week, so we built a really special bond from that.
"At the end of the day I want to be here when we have success at this club in the years to come.
"Hopefully starting with this year, we get to play more finals and the ultimate goal, which would be pretty special, is to win that premiership with each other."
Taken with pick No.7 in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft when the Giants had 11 of the first 14 selections, Haynes acknowledged the number of current and potential stars on the club's list, but said what is often overlooked is the attitude and character of his teammates.
"I don't think it's just out talent that has got us to where we are at the moment, we know it takes a lot of hard work," he said.
"Talent is only a small part of it, yes we do have a lot of talented guys, but especially this year, it's the hard work we've put in together.
"We're not kids anymore and we want to be known as a consistent, hard team like Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans."
Haynes has overcome a slow start to 2016 thanks to off-season surgery, to once again show he is an integral member of the GWS defensive unit.
He battled through the second half of last season with groin and stomach issues, but despite struggling with his mobility and athleticism – two of his best attributes – Haynes still finished equal 10th in last year's club champion award with forward Toby Greene.
Haynes had a groin operation in December after rest failed to rehabilitate his injury, so was forced to start this season in the NEAFL and wait for his opportunity in the senior side.
"Last year I was just hanging in there in games playing OK, but not great footy, but this year I've had no issues at all since I've come back," he said.
"It was disappointing to miss a lot of the pre-season but at the moment I'm probably in the best nick I've ever been in.
"I've played 12 games in a row this which I've struggled to do in my career so far and I'm just enjoying playing each week and getting some wins together.
"I've had good energy all year and it doesn't feel like I've had that grind in the middle of the season that a lot of guys talk about.
"As long as I get the body right towards the pointy end then there'll be no dramas."