Hayden McLean credits an injury-free pre-season as the catalyst to his breakout season in 2021 that saw him become a key figure in the Swans return to finals football.
Heading into the new campaign with 10 appearances since his debut in Round 18, 2019, McLean finished the year with 12 games to his name - recording 11 goals and averaging 4.8 marks per game.
He credits his relentless work throughout pre-season as a main reason behind his strong form and says it allowed him to feel confident whenever he donned the red and white jumper.
"I think having a bit of a taste last year (with six games), and having a full pre-season that helped me get my body right helped me have confidence in myself," he said.
"I felt like I put a decent year together. Each week I felt like I competed and improved little by little.
"It was the first pre-season that I hadn't been injured, so to be able to put a couple of months together over the pre-season, and get a big block (of training) in helped me feel confident in my body."
While acknowledging his own efforts in the lead up to the new season, McLean was quick to highlight some of his team-mates that had a profound impact on his professional development.
Having made a name for himself amongst the forwards, it's no surprise some of the club's leading big men played a role in his strong year, and hopes his form will lay a perfect platform to launch in the 2022 season with greater confidence.
"I had a few forwards like Reidy (Sam Reid) and Bud (Lance Franklin) that helped me along the way," he said.
"I think it's just building on it again this year, and having another big pre-season and then trying to get that continuity throughout the year and put my hand up each week."
McLean's best performances of the year came in Round 7 against Geelong, with his four-goal display helping ignite a remarkable comeback victory at the SCG, while also starring in Round 11 against Collingwood with 18 disposals, nine marks, and six tackles.
4.8 marks per game
2 tackles per game