ONE of the favorites for this year's NAB Rising Star award Callum Mills says living in the harbour city has helped him escape the hype surrounding his first few months of his career.
The 18-year-old, who counts current Swans co-captains Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack, and former champion Adam Goodes as his idols, has been named to debut against the Collingwood on Saturday night at the SCG.
Mills was taken at pick three at last year's draft after the Swans matched Melbourne's bid for their academy star, and was rated the best midfielder in the talent pool by the club.
The Sydney local will play a key role across half-back in the season opener and while expectations from the footy world are high, Mills said he's not concerned about the scrutiny surrounding his highly anticipated debut.
"Being at the club, when you're inside the four walls you don't hear anything, and especially being in Sydney you're out of the Melbourne bubble," Mills said on Thursday.
"I'm really glad that I ended up at the Swans, it's a club that I've supported my whole life.
"I've been to a lot of games and sat in the stands and to actually play on the field with others watching me this time, it's something I'll really cherish.
"I'm really glad that I'm getting the opportunity on Saturday to run out with 21 great blokes and I think that hopefully we can put on a good performance together to get a win over the Pies."
Mills chose to follow his Aussie rules dream over a rugby union career as a youngster, thanks to the opportunities given to him by the Swans' academy program.
The teenager has worked closely with the injured McVeigh and the recently retired Rhyce Shaw – the Swans' NEAFL coach – as he looks to inject quality foot skills and decision-making into the team's experienced defence.
"Rhyce (Shaw) and Jarrad (McVeigh) have been great, Jarrad has been my mentor over the off-season so he's been really good with giving me advice," Mills said.
"He keeps it quite simple really and brings it back to basics.
"Rhyce has been great for the club as a development manager so I take bits of him when I can and ask him questions about the role because he was a great player and I really want to step into his shoes."
No Sydney-born player had ever been drafted inside the top 10 before the Swans selected Mills last year, and the significance of the achievement hasn't been lost on the North Shore local.
"It's a great honour, as a young kid looking up to players that are from Sydney I think I'm going to really take that in my stride," Mills said.
"Hopefully I can set an example for other academy kids coming through the ranks that it's not impossible (to be drafted) being from Sydney.
"That's the thing that they should really look for, is to work hard and have a role model at the Swans."