Pilates helps Haynes reach AFL milestone

Rob Forsaith
Nick Haynes will make his 100th AFL appearance for the GWS Giants against Carlton on Sunday

What does GWS's milestone man Nick Haynes have in common with AFL legend Jonathan Brown, tennis champion Serena Williams and retired cricketer Shane Watson?

They're all big believers in the power of pilates.

The Giants will seek to bolster their bid for a top-four spot on Sunday, when they face wooden spoon favourites Carlton at Etihad Stadium.

The clash will be the 100th AFL game of Haynes' stop-start career.

The 26-year-old is a foundation player at the expansion club, having been drafted as a key forward in 2011 then made his name as a high-flying defender.

The milestone has come slower than Haynes would have liked because of a series of injuries, including a broken ankle, osteitis pubis and hamstring tendon tear.

But the intercept specialist has maintained form and fitness this year. He is on track to play every game this season, which would be a career first.

Haynes believes frequent visits to his local pilates reformer studio have been the catalyst.

"My girlfriend is an ambassador for KX Pilates, so she does it regularly ... there's one at home in Balmain and I get out there with all the mums," he said.

"They put on some music and it goes pretty quickly.

"They're pretty hard sessions. You get a sweat up and .... definitely pull up sore.

"It strengthens all those muscles that you don't really work in the gym or out on the track."

GWS have a pilates program at the club. The backman started attending additional classes while recovering from osteitis pubis in 2015.

Haynes made it a more regular habit during the previous off-season, building a new-found sense of confidence in his "weird body" that was "not meant for AFL".

"I've got knees that fold inwards, I've had a few back issues ... weak glutes," he said.

"Never did weights (until he was drafted)."

Haynes preferred skateboarding, surfing, skimboarding and BMX for most of his teenage years, notably snapping both bones in his arm after one fall.

That background goes a long way in explaining how often - and the fashion in which - he flies for intercept marks.

"I grew up mostly as a forward and was just used to never spoiling," he said.

"The coaching staff ... have confidence in my judgement to pick the right moments."

The Giants have won seven of their past eight games, reasserting their premiership credentials that took a hit during a four-match losing streak.

"We had lost a bit of confidence ... but nobody was blaming each other," Haynes said.