Hot Sydney prospect Callum Mills wants to step into the shoes of recently retired Swans stalwart Rhyce Shaw, and is intent on doing the AFL club’s famous No.14 guernsey proud.
Lifelong Swans fan Mills, who will make his debut against Collingwood on Saturday, is the highest-drafted Sydney-born player the Swans have recruited since they landed in the harbour city in the early 1980s.
The No.3 national draft pick, Mills, who turns 19 next week, is one of the early season favourites for the Rising Star award.
He was a standout player for Sydney in the pre-season and confirmed he’s likely to be used in half-back-midfield roles.
Mills has been receiving tuition from co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, who’s expected to be on the half-back line when he returns from a knee injury.
He’s also learnt from renowned running defender Shaw, who retired after the 2015 season and is now a development coach at the club.
“I take bits off Rhyce when I can and ask him questions about the role because he was a great player and I really want to try and step into his shoes,” Mills said.
He said it was special wearing the No.14 guernsey made famous by club greats Bob Skilton and Paul Kelly.
“Bob Skilton won three Brownlow Medals speaks for itself and Paul Kelly is probably one of the greatest captains the Swans have had,” Mills said.
“For me to wear it is just a real honour, and I really want to take it in my stride and hopefully I can do the number the best I can.”
The Swans academy product hasn’t felt any pressure from the hype about his potential.
“Especially being in Sydney, you’re out of the noise of the Melbourne bubble, and I’m really glad that I ended up at the Swans. It’s the club that I’ve supported for my whole life,” Mills said.
He juggled Australian rules and rugby, representing Sydney’s Warringah Rats in the latter until he was about 14.
“The Swans were the ones that persuaded me over the line and gave me such a good pathway to reach the AFL level, and I think that’s where we got the edge over the other codes,” Mills said.