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Academy: True mates Blakey, Wicks kicking goals together

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 26: Nick Blakey looks on during a Sydney Swans AFL training session at Bat & Ball Oval on November 26, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images/AFL Media)
Nick Blakey in pre-season training with the Swans during December.

Nick Blakey and Sam Wicks often shared the same patch of grass in QBE Sydney Swans Academy colours, and the emerging forwards couldn’t be happier to now be living out their AFL dreams side by side.

The Swans snapped up key forward Blakey and small forward Wicks as draftees in November, with Blakey signing via Sydney’s first-round AFL Draft selection and close mate Wicks penning a deal as a Category B Rookie.

Although 19-year-old Wicks was always a part of an older Academy age group than 18-year-old Blakey, the promising duo often found themselves bursting through the banner shoulder to shoulder on game day.

Wicks would also run out for the Manly-Warringah Giants and Blakey the UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs, but their club-football rivalry mattered little.

The youngsters dreamed of conquering the big time from a young age, they honed their craft in the Academy, and in 2018 everything they had ever aspired to would become a reality.

And it was a journey they travelled together.

Wicks says it means a lot to have made his journey from the Academy to the AFL with Blakey by his side.

“Nick always fitted into the older age group really well and was always really outgoing,” Wicks told Swans Media.

“He was always one of the boys and was never the young boy who’d come up – he was always a big part of the group.

“It’s pretty surreal to think we took the Academy path together and have now moved onto the Swans list together. We’re good mates and we’ll always have a great story to tell.”

Blakey and Wicks had little to do with each other in the early days of their time at the Academy, but that would begin to change as the years ticked by.

They shared a forward 50 in the 2017 Under-18 Academy Series as the Swans claimed the silverware without losing a game, and the star pair would again combine forces as the Swans finished runner-up in 2018.

The two Academy products also fired in the only NEAFL game Blakey has played, with Blakey and Wicks booting a pair of goals each as the Swans grabbed an 88-point win over the Southport Sharks at the SCG in Round 7, 2018.

Blakey laughs it was often that he was at centre half-forward and Wicks crumbing at his feet, and he says the many games of footy they’ve played together should pay dividends.

“We’ve played a lot of football together and I’m sure we’ll play a bit of NEAFL football together in 2019,” Blakey said.

“Wicksy’s an opportunist forward and I’m a key forward, so we’re always going to be at the same end of the ground. I’ve been playing footy with Wicksy since we were juniors, so there’s a good on-field bond there.”

The Swans secured Blakey’s signature on the opening night of the AFL Draft, and the Randwick local’s eyes were glued to the TV as Wicks followed suit on the following day.

“I was selected on the Thursday night and then watched the whole of Friday because I knew a fair few boys fronting the Draft – not just Wicksy,” Blakey said.

“Then I saw the Swans took him as a Category B Rookie and knowing I’d be in the senior group come Monday with someone I had been mates with for a long time was a pretty good feeling.”

Wicks was as equally rapt for Blakey.

“I was super happy to see Nick get picked up at the Draft,” Wicks said.

“I know how hard he worked for a long time to get himself on an AFL list, and now that he’s at the Swans I’m absolutely stoked for him.”

The two newcomers will soon return from the Christmas break for the second block of pre-season training.

The Swans will kick off their 2019 AFL campaign against the Western Bulldogs on March 23, while the NEAFL side is scheduled to meet GWS in the opening round of the season.

And Blakey and Wicks are both buzzing with excitement for the chapter that lies ahead.

“I cannot wait to get back to the club and really crack in hard,” Blakey said.

“I’ll come back in January, hit the ground running and then set up for what’s hopefully a good season of footy.”

And the words of Wicks? 

“I’m really looking forward to making the most of my shot on the Swans list. It’s awesome training with the boys in pre-season training and I just cannot wait to lace up the boots for some games.”