He missed just one top-tier game, claimed an AFL Rising Star nomination and roamed the Sydney Swans’ forward 50 with childhood idol Lance Franklin – so it’s of no surprise Nick Blakey is thrilled with his first season at the highest level.
“It was nice to play as much senior football as I did. If you had asked me this time last year whether I’d come in and play 21 senior games, I would have said you’re dreaming,” Blakey told SwansTV.
“To live out my dream, play a fair bit of senior football and put together some good performances was pleasing.
“It was pretty crazy playing with Buddy (Franklin). He was injured for a fair bit of the season, but the games we did play together were definitely very special. To play in his 300th and see off the retiring boys was definitely another highlight.”
Blakey was pick 10 at the 2018 AFL Draft and one of just five top-10 selections who would play 21 or more senior games.
The QBE Sydney Swans Academy product was also one of just six top-10 2018 draftees who collected an AFL Rising Star nomination.
The 19-year-old was crowned the Round 14 nominee on the back of a sparkling final-term performance against Hawthorn at the SCG, with the prized Swan jagging two goals and flying high for a Mark of the Year contender in Sydney’s 19-point win.
Sydney forwards coach Steve Johnson believes Blakey is destined for a bright future.
“Nick played 21 games and for a first-year player that is exceptional, especially for someone who didn’t play a lot of football as a junior because of injury,” Johnson told SwansTV.
“We’re very excited about what he’s capable of and what he was able to deliver in his first season of AFL footy.
“There’s no doubt he’s a dangerous forward, but later in the year he spent time up on the wing where he showed he’s a really good ball-user kicking the ball inside 50.”