Pocket-rocket draftee Sam Wicks lit up the NEAFL over two seasons in QBE Sydney Swans Academy colours – and he’s now analysing the games of the Swans’ most damaging small forwards in the early days of his AFL career.
Nineteen-year-old Wicks signed with the Swans as a Category B Rookie last November as he fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming an AFL footballer.
The Manly local is now surging through the pre-season alongside Tom Papley, Will Hayward, Ben Ronke and a number of other meteoric small forwards – and he said the star trio had been enormous for his game.
“Papley, Hayward and Ronke – a lot of the small forwards at the Swans – have all been super supportive with helping me improve my forward craft,” Wicks told SwansTV.
“It’s been great learning off those boys – guys who pride their game on similar attributes to me, and guys who’ve had an impact in the AFL.”
Wicks progressed from the Academy system and on to Sydney’s list alongside close mate and fellow Academy product Nick Blakey, who had honed his craft in the age group below.
The Swans also welcomed on board young draftees James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney, Zac Foot, Durak Tucker and Harry Reynolds.
Wicks, who had taken big strides in the Academy through the NEAFL, Under-18 Academy Series and a variety of development camps, underscored the importance of the Academy to his journey.
“The Swans Academy got me very prepared to make an AFL list, so it was a huge stepping stone,” Wicks said.
“The Academy follows similar principles, training and gym sessions as the senior boys, so it’s been a pretty smooth transition and has set me up really well.”
Wicks was among a host of Swans sweating through a yo-yo test at Bat and Ball Oval in Moore Park on Wednesday, a gruelling endurance test – similar to the beep test – designed to gage the fitness levels of athletes.
The youngster is pushing his way through taxing training in the scorching sun week after week.
But he says he still does his best to make the most of his free time despite the zapping grind of an AFL footballer's life.
“It’s pretty tiring coming home, but I go to the beach and get around the boys as much as possible.”