Sydney Swans' rising star forward Will Hayward has put pen to paper, signing a 1-year contract extension on Monday.
The 19-year-old has turned a three year deal into four, and is set to remain with the club until at least the end of 2020.
Hayward was secured by the Swans in the AFL's National Draft in 2016 with pick 21, their second-round selection.
He was a South Australian boy, who had just completed year 12 and turned 18 a month before the draft, but says that the Swans' senior players have made the move interstate easier.
“Luke Parker’s been my official mentor but a lot of the other senior boys have been really good,” Hayward said.
“Buddy’s been great, Kieren Jack’s been really good, Dan Hannebery, Dane Rampe, Josh Kennedy.
“All the senior players and leadership group have really helped me settle in and obviously a few of the boys I got drafted with and a few mates I’m close to have made it easy as well.
“Each year the younger boys are assigned to a mentor and I was lucky enough to get Luke.
“Coming from Adelaide, it’s a bit smaller than Sydney so the traffic and amount of people took a bit to get used to, but I love the city and have made friends for life.
“All the boys here are so great and it’s the best place to work.”
Hayward caught the Swans' attention through his athleticism and skills, and said that signing with the club was an unreal experience.
“It was unreal,” Hayward said.
“I get shivers just thinking about it sometimes. It was one of the best moments of my football career.”
Hayward made his AFL debut in round 2 last year against the Western Bulldogs, picking up 16 disposals and kicking a behind in an impressive performance, and has gone on to play 20 senior games.
He made 17 appearances in his first season and another three in 2018, and said that fellow forward Tom Papley played a major role in his development.
“With the start we had to the year and the injuries we had I was able to get an early opportunity,” Hayward said.
“I learned a bit off Tom Papley who played a similar role to me and tried to mirror what he did.
“He used his forward pressure to hold a spot, so I learned a lot off Tom even though he was still really young.”
We wish him all the best and hope that he will remain with Sydney Swans for a very long time.
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