In an exclusive column during pre-season, Josh Begley outlined three goals in 2019: regain trust in his body, recapture his 2018 form and cement a spot in the senior line-up.
They were lofty ambitions for the 21-year-old, given he didn’t partake in full training until late February as part of his recovery from a knee reconstruction.
But come the early stages of the season, Begley was on track to tick off his goals, returning to the senior line-up in round nine and playing six consecutive games in a testament to his hard work.
Within that streak was a two-week period where he kicked five goals, proving difficult for opposition defenders to stop in the air and on the ground.
What looked like the beginning of a long spell in the seniors didn’t eventuate, however, with Begley omitted ahead of round 16 and struggling to work his way back into the line-up.
He went on to finish with eight senior games for 2019 - taking his overall tally to 16 – becoming a mainstay of the VFL Bombers’ run to a preliminary final in the latter stages.
While he didn’t achieve all his missions, Begley will no doubt take confidence from getting through the season unscathed, growing his resilience after conquering one of the most serious injury setbacks a young player can face.
Average disposals: 11.6
Average marks: 3.5
Average tackles: 1.9
On a night where the Bombers were comprehensively beaten, Begley’s performance against the Eagles at Optus Stadium in round 14 was commendable.
The former No.31 draft pick led his side for goals with a career-high three, also setting new personal bests for contested marks (two) and effective disposals (11).
His impact on the scoreboard was crucial in keeping an unlikely Essendon comeback alive.
Contracted until the end of 2020, Begley will have his sights set on an unrestricted pre-season.
Building his tank, adding versatility and consistently impacting games will be among the No.16's key focuses, as he strives to cement a spot in the senior line-up.