Sam Wicks has underscored the importance of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy after signing with the red and white at last week’s Rookie Draft.
The Swans recruited the 19-year-old forward as a Category B Rookie and on Friday he rounded out his first pre-season as an AFL footballer, joining Josh Kennedy, Jake Lloyd and the rest of Sydney’s squad at Bat and Ball Oval in Moore Park.
Wicks said the Academy played a central role in his rise to an AFL list.
“The Academy was super important,” Wicks told SwansTV.
“It’s made the transition super easy, I already know most of the boys and it’s been really good.
“It was great to be picked up as a draftee. It’s what I had been dreaming of my whole life and what I had always aspired for in my time with the Academy, so it was great to finally get there.
“It feels really good to have finally received a crack on the Swans list. I’m very excited.”
The Academy presented Wicks with scores of opportunities to hone his craft, including the NEAFL, AFL Under-18 Championships and Academy Series.
Wicks made 11 NEAFL appearances for the Swans in 2017 and 13 in 2018, with the youngster averaging 15 disposals and booting 10 goals in his 2018 campaign.
The Manly-Warringah Giants junior was at his best as the Swans toppled the Gold Coast Suns in Round 21, posting 19 touches and three goals in the 52-point win.
Wicks says he’s finding inspiration in the scores of former rookie-listed Swans who’ve gone on to kick big goals.
While Heath Grundy, Nick Smith and Kieren Jack all signed with the Swans as rookies, the experienced trio has gone on to play 200 games or more and win a premiership.
“Seeing those boys come through the same pathway and getting to where they are is huge,” Wicks said.
“If I could have half the career those guys have had it’d be great.”
Wicks said he had set clear goals for himself ahead of his first pre-season as an AFL-listed Swan.
“I just want to get fitter and stronger, keep the skills up and improve every day.”