AFLCA Round 3: Sam Wicks bewitches coaches with bedazzling display

Sydney Swans small forward Sam Wicks put in a stunning performance in Sydney's 45-point upset win against the reigning premiers on Saturday afternoon at the MCG, to capture the full 10 votes on offer.

While the 10-game-veteran may end up being pipped on Brownlow night by stellar performances by Callum Mills, Tom Hickey, and Tom Papley, Wicks' 3-goal haul and 21-disposals were the best of his career.

After lean figures in the first two rounds, focused more on his defensive pressure work and tagging on damaging half-backs, his ability to find space and kick goals hadn't yet had a chance to shine.

That all changed on a perfect 30-degree April day in Melbourne when Sam Wicks put in a masterclass.

He took a game-high 13 marks, finished with 8 score involvements, 2 goal assists, 22 pressure acts, and 3 tackles.

Fellow small forward Tom Papley booted 4-goals in a near best on ground performance, and with Wicks, tore shreds from the renowned Richmond defence.

Papley's pressure work higher up the ground was crucial in forcing numerous defensive turnovers, and his movement had the Richmond defensive unit at sea, regularly bursting free of defender Liam Baker.

Defender Jordan Dawson had a day to remember at half-back for the first half and was easily the best on the ground to that point.

His ability to penetrate the Richmond lines with his booming kick, and hit precise targets in the middle of the ground, split the zone defence apart, time and time again.

Recruit ruckman Tom Hickey has been a particular highlight for the Swans this year and has already featured regularly in the AFLCA votes, and our player of the year votes.

Hickey put in another ruck masterclass and was hugely influential in the first quarter and the second quarter goal run when he fed the ball from contests directly to his midfield brigade.

Former Swan Toby Nankervis went into the match the number one ranked hitout to advantage ranked ruckman, but it was Hickey who had the better of the contests, finishing with two more hit-outs to advantage, 2 goals, and 20% more hitout to advantage rate.

Rising star midfielder Chad Warner put in a third stellar performance in a row that is turning heads from coast to coast and even had Ross Lyon wrongly declaring the midfielder to be a product of the Sydney Swans Academy.

His 2-goal, 20 disposal match featured another two highlight goals, the first a snap over the shoulder from 45 metres, and the second a bursting run from the centre square, breaking Jack Graham's tackle.

10 Sam Wicks (SYD)
7 Tom Papley (SYD)
4 Jordan Dawson (SYD)
4 Tom Hickey (SYD)
2 Oliver Florent (SYD)
2 Chad Warner (SYD)
1 Callum Mills (SYD)

11 Callum Mills
11 Tom Hickey
10 Sam Wicks
9 Errol Gulden
8 Jordan Dawson
7 Tom Papley
5 Braeden Campbell

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia

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