The Sydney Swans person been backed by an AFL fable to triumph the premiership this season, and 1 of their astir breathtaking up-and-coming players perfectly highlights the playing benignant that has propelled them into emblem contention.
It's been a well-documented 'rebuilding phase' for the Sydney AFL nine successful caller years, arsenic a fistful of stalwarts hung up the boots and the adjacent procreation of young Bloods got up to velocity with top-level footy.
After a fourth-last decorativeness successful 2019 and third-last decorativeness past season, things are yet commencement to click again for the 2016 AFL expansive finalists, arsenic they beryllium sixth connected the table, poised to play finals for the archetypal clip since 2018.
And it's a rookie Swan, Eastern Suburbs section and draught prime No.32 Errol Gulden, who has personified the thrilling emergence retired of the ashes for Sydney.
"Errol is an implicit excitement machine," Swans teammate and chap rising prima Will Hayward told Wide World of Sports of Gulden.
"We saw it adjacent earlier we drafted him. He did a fewer grooming sessions with america and we were counting down the days we could get him connected the list.
"What helium has been capable to supply it truly comes arsenic nary surprise. He's a composed, skilful player, and ultra competitive.
"He's lone played a fistful of games but you tin archer he's a bloke you tin truly look guardant to playing with each week."
At conscionable 18 years of age, Gulden has averaged an unthinkable 15.2 disposals, 10.4 kicks and astir 5 marks a game, scoring 8 goals successful conscionable 10 games successful his archetypal twelvemonth successful the AFL. The mean guardant is yet different tantalising merchandise of the Swans Academy, and Hayward said there's much conscionable similar him coming done the ranks.
"Absolutely [haven't seen the afloat imaginable of the endowment the Academy tin produce]. We've got immoderate perfectly top-shelf players from the Academy similar Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Errol... truthful what the Academy does for young footballers successful Sydney is truly good," Hayward, who hails from Adelaide, said.
"Hopefully there's a fewer much gems successful determination that we tin adhd to our list."
Gulden's electrical benignant of play fits precisely to the crippled program that manager John Longmire has been trying to execute with his premix of acquisition and younker successful the side, and it's 1 of the reasons the Swans person been predicted to person a heavy tally successful the finals this year.
Hayward is besides among the young guns astatine the Swans astatine conscionable 22 and inactive successful the infancy of his AFL vocation aft being picked 21st wide by the Swans successful the 2016 draft.
Of the 46 players successful the Swans squad this season, 20 players are 22 oregon under.
"If they tin get blistery astatine the close time, I perfectly deliberation they've got capable wrong their ain strategy to triumph the premiership," erstwhile AFL prima Nick Riewoldt told Fox Sports this week.
"They play a benignant nether John Longmire that if they tin get hot... we've seen it truthful galore times before, we saw with Richmond successful '17, the Bulldogs successful '16.
"There becomes a tipping point. I deliberation what we've seen them bash against immoderate of the truly prime absorption – erstwhile they bushed Richmond it was a demolition, they've done it to West Coast – they've enactment successful immoderate really, truly bully performances.
"I deliberation it's a benignant that volition basal up (in finals)."
Hayward said the quality this twelvemonth compared to past was their pre-season and recruiting - specified arsenic drafting Gulden - which has helped them find signifier again.
Their blistering commencement winning the archetypal 4 games of 2021 was a informing motion of what was to come. Since past there's been immoderate up and down performances, but it seems the Swans person recovered a saccharine spot astatine the pointy extremity of the season.
"We changed a just spot astir the nine aft past year," Hayward said from the Swans' existent basal successful Melbourne arsenic Sydney conflict a caller outbreak of COVID-19.
"We've got immoderate caller coaches and bully new, young players in. We truly honed successful connected our crippled program successful pre-season and worked truly hard connected doing the basics well.
"We implemented them beautifully successful the archetypal 4 rounds and erstwhile we haven't played arsenic bully arsenic we'd like, we slipped connected that a small bit."
The Swans person besides recovered a equilibrium successful however they utilise their much experienced players, specified arsenic Lance 'Buddy' Franklin, who leads a lethal onslaught successful the guardant 50 on with Gulden, Hayward, Tom Papley, and Isaac Heeney.
"We don't privation to enactment each the value connected his shoulders, but he's an implicit superstar and the champion subordinate of the modern era," Hayward said of Franklin.
"He's evidently precise important to us. He plays with a large beingness and takes the champion defender and sometimes 2 each week. When he's buzzing astir we're precise grateful but successful saying that we person different avenues and we effort not to enactment each our eggs successful 1 basket.
"If he's having a quiescent day, I've got nary uncertainty we've got different players that tin measurement up."
Hayward said portion winning the emblem is evidently the extremity goal, they were not getting up of themselves contempt the hype.
"We instrumentality things week by week and astatine the infinitesimal each our absorption is connected the Bulldogs," helium said.
"There's a batch of h2o that needs to spell nether the span earlier we crook our absorption to thing similar [winning a premiership].
"Last week we had a bully triumph implicit West Coast truthful hopefully we'll beryllium capable to thrust that signifier question into this week against the top-of-the-table Bulldogs, which volition beryllium a large situation for america but 1 we're not shying distant from.
"I started successful the reserves this twelvemonth and worked my mode backmost into the squad playing that fractional guardant role. I conscionable privation to support playing accordant footy and clasp my spot due to the fact that it's an breathtaking squad to beryllium a portion of.
"To triumph a premiership successful specified a brainsick season, your squad and full squad needs to beryllium resilient and mentally tough. The teams that clasp it are going to person much occurrence truthful it's the cognition you person with it."
Will Hayward spoke to Wide World of Sports connected behalf of the Swans' and Volkswagen's Footy Assist inaugural which is giving clubs crossed Australia the accidental to triumph a stock of $50,000 successful grants