Outstanding Sydney AFL youngster Callum Mills has been labelled special by the man whose place he has effectively taken.
Swans academy product Mills has slotted seamlessly into the space vacated by dashing half-back Rhyce Shaw, who retired at the end of last season.
Shaw has been able to watch Mills at close quarters by remaining with the club as a development coach and coach of their reserves side.
Mills has averaged 17 touches and four marks a game and has impressed pundits with his poise and polish.
Drafted as a midfielder, Mills has adjusted quickly to an unfamiliar new role in the Swans’ backline.
Shaw said he wasn’t surprised at Mills’ smooth transition to senior football.
“I really haven’t had a lot to do with Millsy, a bit last year when he was doing it a bit tough with injury,” Shaw said.
“He’s just a natural footballer, he can play anywhere.
“He’s a real student of the game, so the ball is in his court how far he wants to go, because he’s got all the tools.
“He’s something special.”
Shaw has made a successful transition of his own from playing to coaching ranks.
The Swans reserves won their first nine NEAFL games under his stewardship before last weekend’s one-point loss to the Giants.
“It’s my dream job,” Shaw said.
“It has been a bit of a shock to the system with all the things you’ve got to do, but I love it. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Shaw is coaching some of his former teammates and recognises he can’t always be the happy-go-lucky japester he was as a playing colleague.
“It’s a really tough dynamic going from a guy where you stuff around and joke here and there… to actually being a coach and have a serious conversation,” Shaw said.
“The boys have been great for me, I think they probably realise it is a bit tough but they give me great respect.”