Finn Callaghan is looking forward to getting back on the track and into preparations for 2023 (Image: AFL; Design: Will Cuckson)

After undergoing surgery in the first week of September to remove a sesamoid bone in his foot, Finn Callaghan is nearing full training and can’t wait to get back into it.

The number three pick in last year’s draft played five games in his debut season before the flare-up in his foot began which resulted in him having to sit out the second half of the season. The young wingman averaged 15 disposals playing between the midfield and forward line.

Callaghan sat down to have an exclusive chat with The Inner Sanctum about his new life as an AFL footballer and how he’s feeling about his future at the Giants.

“It was great, I’m so lucky to be doing what I’m doing,” Callaghan said when asked how he reflected on his first season in the AFL system.

“Everyone was really welcoming when I got to the club, they welcomed me with open arms it was a great feeling.

“Lachie Whitfield especially was great, we’ve been doing a lot of training together over the break as well since we’re both in rehab at the moment.”

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Callaghan has taken inspiration from his injury to do everything in his power to make sure he’s fit and firing for the beginning of next season by arriving back at the club a month before the players were due so he can be ahead in his rehab and get back to the main group.

Callaghan knows the new game plan proposed by new coach Adam Kingsley means his recovery will take longer than initially expected to make sure he can withstand the running requirements. However, the 19-year-old feels like it’s the right plan to bring out the best in the squad.

“I’m really looking forward to it actually, our new game style is going to be high-intensity with a lot of running,” he said.

“It’s going to work for us, I think it’s definitely the right plan. I know I’m going to be working hard over the Christmas break to get back to the level so in January and February I can be matching it with everyone else at the club.”

It wasn’t easy coming into a club and playing your first season with the coaching problems that were going on. Callaghan spoke high praise for all the coaches he had last year and couldn’t have expressed much more gratitude for the time they put into him.

Despite his understanding that his previous coaches did the best they could given the situation, he’s looking forward to a more settled system this year and has enjoyed his early conversations with the new coach.

“It was a tough year last year,” Callaghan said.

“I still really enjoyed myself and my work with the coaches. As tough as it was they all did their best to stay positive and do everything they can to develop us as footballers. I’m really grateful for that.

“Although a fresh face is exciting too, new people around the club, a fresh game plan as well. I think I speak for all the boys when I say Adam’s [Kingsley] made a great first impression.

“We’ve had a few chats now and he’s been great. He’s made sure I know that he just wants me to focus on getting my body right. The rest will come later, but it’s nice to know there’s no rush.”

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Spending all that time on the sideline gave the midfielder plenty of time to reflect and look back at both the positives and negatives of his brief appearance in the league. Callaghan has fond memories of his trip to the Adelaide Oval and has given himself a list of things he needs to be better at by round one.

“Getting my first win in that Adelaide game was so special,” he said recounting the story of a boyhood dream.

“Everyone just played so well and we were able to get it done away from home. That was the moment for me when I felt comfortable at the level and knew that I belonged.

“When it comes to next year there are a few things I want to do to improve my game.

“I want to work on my fitness, really increase my running capacity, I’d like to be able to run out games. I’m going to put a lot of work into my right foot kicking and get that up to an AFL standard as well, I’d like to be able to kick off both feet.

“I just want to be stronger when taking marks too, I feel like if I improve all of those I’m going to be in a good place.”

There are a few big holes in the Giants’ midfield next year, the departures of Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper will open up plenty of opportunities for some of the younger mids on the list.

Callaghan recognises the chances he could have next season, but he’s not getting too far ahead of himself, he just wants to put one foot in front of the other and get through the pre-season month by month. The first task on his list? Get back to training with the group.

“There’s obviously a few spots in there now, I’m not too worried about them at the moment though. All I’m focused on is recovering properly and getting myself fully fit so I’m ready to go,” he said when asked if he thinks he’s ready to take over a permanent midfield role.

“Once that’s ticked off and I’m fit, I’ll be doing everything I can in training putting my best foot forward to earn one of those midfield spots for myself.

“Losing Tim and Hops [Jacob Hopper] hurts the team a little bit, but it also opens up opportunities for myself and some of the younger guys. I’m just really keen to put the work in over the summer and hopefully find myself in there.”

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