The West Yorkshire club are as keen as any to improve next year after a largely disappointing 2021.
With that in mind, head coach Ian Watson has not messed around with his recruitment, bringing in double-winning St Helens scrum-half Theo Fages, Tonga stand-off Tui Lolohea from his former club Salford Red Devils and England prop Chris Hill from Warrington Wolves.
They are all now in pre-season training with Giants – NRL signing Danny Levi will join them shortly – and McGillvary, who has amassed almost 300 games for his hometown club – has noticed an immediate reaction.
“It is exciting,” the 33-year-old told The Yorkshire Post.
“For me, being at the club for as long as I have, seeing all these new players coming in, you can tell the intensity of training has upped.
“Tui has been training from the start, Hilly’s been in and Theo came in at the start of the week.
“But also all our young boys have so much more experience now having played in the past when there’s been injuries so that bodes well for next year.
“A lot of these players now are not inexperienced; they are men and ready to play.
“So they are pushing myself and other players for the shirts. It creates a good healthy position. But there’s Ollie (Roberts), Seb (Ikahihifo) and Innes (Senior) coming back from loans, too, so there’s a lot of competition.”
Forwards Roberts and Ikahihifio have spent the last two years on loan at Salford while winger Senior – whose 21-year-old twin brother Louis is also at John Smith’s Stadium – has been with Wakefield Trinity on a similar arrangement.
“Innes has come back so there’s wings and centre spots up for grabs,” added McGillvary.
“He is a top player. I think his brother has missed him a little bit! But they’re back training together now.
“Ollie’s a great player, too. I speak to Ollie all the time as he lives around the corner from me.
“He’s enjoyed his time at Salford but he’s in his last year (at Giants) now so he needs a big season. And Seb’s just Seb. He’s an absolute beast. I’m happy to have him back on my team now.
“These are all quality players. They have all been away for a couple of seasons, managed a lot of game-time and gained a lot of experience under their belt which will just hold us in good stead for next season.”
Although McGillvary has never played alongside the club’s new half-backs Fages and Lolohea, he knows Hill well after spending much of the last seven years together on international duty with England and Great Britain.
They played together in England’s 2017 World Cup final loss to Australia and on the Great Britain tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea two years later.
Hill joins after almost 300 games for Warrington and, although now 34, McGillvary says it does not show. He said: “I played against Hilly when I was about 19 and he was at Leigh when he was a skinny back-rower! I’ve known him for a long time even before our time together with England.
“He is a quality player and last season just showed that and how much age really doesn’t matter.
“I thought he had a really good season and I’m hoping he’s going to bring that to us next year.
“You can tell in training already that it’s exciting for these young boys here to have someone of his calibre training with them and playing alongside him.
“When I watched the forwards doing wrestle, you see a lot of the young ones are in awe of him. He’s a quality player and a good guy as well; a good person to have around the place. He’ll improve us massively on and off the field.”
McGillvary scored 14 tries in 18 games for Giants last term and also crossed for the Combined Nations All Stars against England after he was left out of Shaun Wane’s plans.
But, for 2022, he says he wants to be “just better than I was last season” and added: “For the first time in a while, I am really excited. Last season was a bit messed up really with all the Covid, being stop-start, we missed loads of weeks of training due to lockdowns so it wasn’t really good for someone of my age.
“I need to be training consistently and be out there to have good fitness and a good level of sharpness. I am excited even for pre-season. It’s the worst time of year for most players but I am really excited by what I can bring.
“I do feel competition is bringing the best out of me.”