SEASON 2020 might not have been one in which Jakiya Whitfeld terrorised opponents with her blistering speed and hard-hitting defence, but it still ranks as one of the most important in her career.
Even without playing regular rugby as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bathurst talent has developed both athletically and in terms of her skill base as she has trained with the Australian Women's Rugby Sevens squad.
Challenging herself against some of the best female sevens talents in the world and exposure to highly credentialed coaching staff is making a difference.
It has also helped to keep her motivated in a year which saw the final rounds of the World Sevens Series and domestic AON University 7s competition cancelled.
"It is tough some days to stay motivated, everyone has their tough days, but I think it's good we all get around each other and try to make it as good as environment as we can and just keep everyone positive," she said.
"We're all looking for the positives in a bad situation. There's nothing we can do, we're a lot better off than a lot of the other countries, a lot of teams have had their funding cut and things like that.
"It's given me a good opportunity to train and get better and improve and I think that will ultimately put me in a good position to be selected."
When Whitfeld speaks of selection, her goal is the same as every other member of the Australian squad - heading to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
The postponement of the Games has presented its challenge to athletes not just within Whitfeld's squad, but across the globe. However, the Bathurst talent realises the opportunity that has come with it as it has allowed her more time to develop and more opportunities to stake her claims.
In was something Whitfeld really appreciated last week when the Australian squad came to stay at her family property and train in the Central West.
On that trip, which included training at Bathurst's Ashwood Park, she was spoken about as an inspiration for the next generation.
"I feel it's weird for me to think that's what we are doing, inspiring the next generation, because that was probably me last year looking up to all these girls," she said.
"This time last year I was finishing school and heading down to join the squad, it's like a year on now and it feels so weird because that year has gone by so fast. I started in November with them.
"It's so good, it's so cool, I never thought last year that something like this would happen. It's so surreal being able to train out here."
It has certainly been a big change for Whitfeld over the past 12 months.
While this time last year she had won a silver medal at the Pacific Games, had been named best on ground in the Ferguson Cup grand final for the Bathurst Bulldogs and scored a host of tries in the AON 7s for Sydney University, the then 18-year-old was not fully immersed in Australian set up.
But in December as an 18-year-old she made her World Sevens Series debut, scoring four tries on her way to bagging a silver medal with the Australian side.
It was an experience which fuelled her desire for more time in the green and gold - be it the Tokyo Games or beyond.