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McLean thrilled as Swans surprise

New Swan - Hayden McLean Swans TV speaks to new recruit Hayden McLean.
I haven’t had an AFL pre-season but I just want to jump straight in. I want to get to know the boys a bit better before Round 1, and then it’s about getting a go in the NEAFL and building from there.
Hayden McLean

Hayden McLean was still digging holes and working in retail as recently as this week – and the big-framed forward and pinch-hitting ruckman is now living out “a dream come true” in Sydney Swans colours.

How quickly the tide can turn.

The 20-year-old was on his way to work as a landscaper on Tuesday morning when Swans list manager Kinnear Beatson dialled his phone and muttered five words that meant the world: “We’re giving you an opportunity.”

McClean had just passed a medical examination with the Swans and, days later, would become a beneficiary of the AFL’s new pre-season supplementary list rules, with Sydney welcoming McLean to the club to fill the void of injured defender Jack Maibaum.

After failing to lock in an AFL contract as a draftee in two consecutive years, McLean was over the moon to be donning the red and white and said he had clear goals for 2019.

“Breaking onto an AFL list has taken me a couple of years longer, but it’s made it all the more worthwhile,” McLean told SwansTV.

“I haven’t had an AFL pre-season but I just want to jump straight in. I want to get to know the boys a bit better before Round 1, and then it’s about getting a go in the NEAFL and building from there.”

Signing with Sydney has capped off a whirlwind summer for McLean, with the Victorian changing club colours for the fourth time in just six months.

The young Swan played junior footy for the Beaumaris Sharks and pulled on a Sandringham Dragons guernsey for his one year in the TAC Cup, before transitioning to the VFL and tackling a summer full of chops and changes.

“I was with the Sandringham Zebras in the VFL last year, and I was training with them up until the Draft when I got the chance to train with St Kilda for two weeks,” McLean said.

“But that didn’t go my way so I had to weigh up my other options and put my best foot forward to get on an AFL list. So I moved to Adelaide to play for the South Adelaide Panthers in the SANFL. I moved there in January this year and now I’m at the Swans, which is awesome.”

McLean didn’t have time to break the good news to his parents before walking in to work as a landscaper on Tuesday morning, but they couldn’t have been happier when he jumped on the phone in the afternoon. 

“I got on to mum first and she was very proud and excited for me,” McLean said.

“The family have been through the last two years of missing out at the Draft with me, so it was a proud moment for the family.

“And dad was a bit hard; he’s in America at the moment so I was trying to work out when I could get on to him. But I got on to him eventually and it was a proud moment for him as well.”