Will Hayward has played only eight AFL games but already made a big impression on Sydney teammate Lance Franklin.
Hayward, who joined the club during last year’s draft, made his debut in round two and hasn’t looked back.
Forwards generally take a long time to develop but Hayward has already stepped up superbly, booting 11 goals.
Franklin, who is regarded as a mentor by many young guns at the SCG, has been suitably impressed with the 18-year-old.
“He’s been super … to do that in your first year is a really good effort,” Franklin said of the South Australian’s capacity to keep the scoreboard ticking over at such a young age.
“He’s probably the most exciting kid coming through (at the Swans).”
Franklin will take centre stage on Friday night, when the Swans host his former side Hawthorn at the SCG, in a crunch clash.
Sydney dropped their opening six games of the year but have since impressed in comfortable victories over Brisbane, North Melbourne and St Kilda.
Franklin suggested there was one clear difference between the way his side played earlier this year compared to now.
“Working as a team, helping your teammates and just that contested side of the game; that’s really what has got us back in the game,” he said.
“Hanners (Dan Hannebery), Joey (Kennedy) and Parks (Luke Parker) are playing some good football, getting it going forward and giving us a chance to win the game.”
The Swans and Hawks have built a special rivalry in recent years, notably contesting the 2012 and 2014 grand finals.
But this year both powerhouses have tumbled down the ladder, banking a combined six wins across the opening nine rounds. It means the Swans and Hawks’ finals hopes are already in the balance.
“We didn’t get off to the start we would have liked to as a club but the last three weeks have been really good,” Franklin said.
“No doubt (the Hawks will be desperate). Obviously they lost last week against Collingwood so they’re going to come out firing, we’ll have to be at our best to get the win.”
The Swans are expected to resist the urge to rush former co-captain Kieren Jack back from a hip injury when they name their side on Thursday night.