A monumental year of achievement reached its climax when pick 26 was called out at last week’s AFL Draft.
Will Gould had already collected back-to-back under-18 All Australian honours, captained South Australia and won a SANFL premiership with Glenelg, and when the Sydney Swans snapped him up with their second-round selection on Thursday night, the hard-running key defender was overwhelmed with emotion.
“I was ecstatic when the Swans called my name out at the draft,” Gould told SwansTV.
“I didn’t really know what to think. I was at home with the family and friends and my housemate had just got picked up by the Crows, so everyone was pretty excited. Then two picks later I got picked up by the Swans. Mum and dad were pretty emotional and it was just an amazing feeling.
“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’m out here training with everyone and feeling like a little kid. I’m absolutely stoked. Since my name was called out I’ve been itching to get up here and meet everyone and get stuck in to it. I’m just over the moon.”
Gould collected an average of 21.5 disposals, 4.5 marks and 7.2 rebound 50s per match for South Australia in the 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships.
He was then named in this year’s All Australian backline alongside top-10 draftees Lachlan Ash, Fischer McAsey and Hayden Young, as well as top-20 youngster Sam De Koning and rookie-listed Gold Coast Sun Connor Budarick.
In 2018, he was named on the All Australian side’s interchange bench alongside Sydney Stack, who would finish third in the 2019 AFL Rising Star award voting.
Gould tallied an average of 19.7 possessions, 5.2 marks and 6.5 rebound 50s per game for Glenelg this year, while he recorded 18 touches and a match-high eight rebound 50s in his side’s Grand Final victory over Port Adelaide.
The young Swan says he prides his game on physicality and being a shining example to his teammates.
“I play off half-back; that’s probably my spot at the moment. I love kicking long, taking the game on, a few big bumps and tackles here and there,” Gould said.
“Leadership is a side of my game that I’ve really worked on over the last few years. Last year I had the experience of playing with the likes of Jack Lukosius and I played against Nick Blakey last year as well. I found passing on my experience to the boys my age this year was really enjoyable.”
Gould was at Lakeside Oval for his first training session with his new club on Monday morning, joining fellow draftees Dylan Stephens, Elijah Taylor, Chad Warner and Brady Rowles.
“It’s just about getting to know everyone and I’m trying to prove myself to a new bunch of teammates,” Gould said.
“I’m always wanting to get the best out of myself. Hopefully I can build a tank and I really want to play senior footy next year. That’s definitely my goal, so we’ll have a crack and see how we go.”