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Buddy’s sidekick a star on the rise

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LANCE Franklin’s teenage sidekick needed only three disposals to secure the final Rising Star nomination for the season.

Will Hayward thought coach John Longmire was joking when told of his Round 23 accolade.

But the No.21 draft pick, who kicked 3.0 from his only three touches in Saturday’s 81-point mauling of Carlton, was rewarded by judges for his excellent debut season.

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Hayward, 18, backed Essendon’s No.1 pick Andy McGrath to take out the overall Rising Star award on Friday.

Hayward, who has played 17 games, said he was eagerly learning off Franklin.

“It’s very special to have grown up watching him play, and then be running out with him and him kicking 10 in front of you is incredible,” Hayward said.

“I think (I’m learning about) his football smarts, the way he uses his body and his movement around the ball.

Will Hayward claims the final Rising Star nomination. Picture: AAP

“The way he gets space on his opponents is something I’ve learnt off him and the main thing is the pressure he provides as a key forward.”

Hayward was completing the review of his game with assistant coach Brett Kirk when Longmire barged in and delivered the news.

“I was very surprised to get it this week, with three kicks,” he said.

“I thought he was having a joke.”

The Swans secured a second early draft selection after trading Tom Mitchell and while they completed further pick swaps, ended up landing Hayward.

Longmire said the Swans were thrilled he was still available at their second pick.

“Looking at the vision during his draft year, we thought he was a real competitor and had great speed and that’s exactly what we saw from the first moment he trained with the team after a delayed pre-season,” Longmire said.

Originally published as Buddy’s sidekick a star on the rise

Source: sports dailytelegraph

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