Buckley hoping to repay GIANTS’ faith

Jack Buckley is eager to justify the GIANTS’ decision to give him a contract extension after an injury-interrupted start to his AFL career.

“At this point last year, I was coming off another injury and I wasn’t in the greatest form,” Buckley said.

Knowing he was out of contract at the end of last season, Buckley admitted he was concerned his time at the GIANTS could be cut short.

“I remember thinking to myself this would probably be my last opportunity to really prove myself and show that I belonged in the AFL system,” Buckley said.

“Obviously my contract situation went through my mind, but I am pumped to stick around the club for another two years and hopefully I repay the faith the club has shown in me so far.”

The 23-year-old grew up in Sydney and graduated from the Sydney Swans Academy before deciding to step away from football.

“Sydney’s Academy program was great for my development but I wasn’t enjoying myself,” Buckley said.

“I made the decision to take a break from the game and then returned to play locally the following year.”

Buckley signed with the UNSW-ES Bulldogs in the AFL Sydney competition and filled in for the GIANTS’ NEAFL team in 2017, before being drafted as a rookie-listed player by the GIANTS ahead of the 2018 season.

“It wasn’t until I played at the UNSW-ES Bulldogs where I really started to fall in love with the game again,” Buckley said.

“Obviously they’ve had a lot of good players come from there recently, like Nick Blakey and Errol Gulden, that demonstrates how good they are at developing young talent.”

After three years on the GIANTS’ list, Buckley has developed into a versatile utility and broke through for his AFL debut in the penultimate round of the 2020 season to play the final two games of the year.

“Personally 2020 was a huge year for my development and I was really proud to get the reward at the end and finish the season playing senior football,” Buckley said.

“For me, I just need to keep building on the year I had.

“When you get a small taste of it, it makes you even hungrier, so I’ll look to really build on that in 2021.”

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