Sydney Swans recruit Sam Gray says he will relish the opportunity to step into a forward line bursting with brilliant young talent and spearheaded by Lance Franklin.
The former Port Adelaide goal-sneak will join forces with Franklin and the likes of exciting young forwards Will Hayward, Tom McCartin and Nick Blakey after signing with Sydney during the delisted free agency period.
The most advanced in his career of that trio is Hayward, who at 19 years and 296 days became the 11th-youngest footballer in history to reach 50 goals at the top level.
McCartin, on the other hand, jagged three goals in a commanding performance in the last match of season 2019, while Blakey slotted 19 majors in 21 AFL games in his debut 2019 campaign.
“There’s obviously a lot of young talent coming through and they’ve been great from what I’ve seen over the last few years,” Gray told SwansTV.
“It’ll obviously also be very exciting playing with Buddy (Franklin). I’ve watched him for many years and he’s very impressive.”
Gray is likely to play a similar role to fellow small forwards Tom Papley and Ben Ronke, crumbing at the feet of towering duo Franklin and Sam Reid.
“I’m an in-and-under type of player,” Gray said.
“It’s all about pressure in the forward line and trying to hold the ball inside 50 and then after it’s trying to kick a few goals and lay tackles.”
Although Gray was drafted to Port Adelaide ahead of season 2014, the 27-year-old joined Sydney’s second- to fifth-year players for pre-season training on Wednesday.
The South Australian tackled a series of high-intensity running efforts at Moore Park’s Lakeside Oval and joked at the end of the session that many had said red and white suited him.
Gray is pleased to finally be settling at the Swans after a whirlwind ride.
“It’s been a little bit nerve-wracking over the last three or four weeks not knowing what’s going on,” Gray said.
“But once I spoke to John (Longmire) and came up here and met everyone – it was good to finally get that out of the way. I’m at the club and I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.”
The weather gods appeared to be on Gray’s side as he touched down at Lakeside Oval under cloudless skies on Wednesday.
And although he grew up in a country town of just 90 people called Rudall, perfect weather means one thing.
“I’m looking forward to getting down to the beaches.”