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Swans lock young forward away until 2020

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Will Hayward celebrates a goal with Lance Franklin - AFL,Contracts,Sydney Swans,Will Hayward
Will Hayward celebrates a goal with Lance Franklin
He's still improving and has a thirst for knowledge
Tom Harley on Will Hayward

SYDNEY has extended the contract of one of its brightest young players, with Will Hayward committed to the club until at least the end of 2020.

The exciting forward was contracted until the end of 2019 but recently agreed to a one-year extension on top of that, tying him to the Swans for at least the next two seasons. 

Swans football manager Tom Harley told AFL.com.au the club was rapt to secure Hayward's extension.  

"Will came on as a draftee last year and made an immediate impact. Originally he was extended beyond his mandatory two-year contract to incorporate a third year, and just recently extended another year beyond that to take him to a four-year commitment from the outset," Harley said.

"He's a really exciting player for us. He's still finding his feet but is making important contributions to the team. He has great athletic ability and football nous but on top of that is the type of person we love around the club and look forward to having a fantastic career with us."

Hayward was picked by the Swans at No.21 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft after emerging late in the year after some impressive form in South Australia.

His leap, footy smarts and class have already shone at the Swans, where he played 17 games in his debut season last year and booted 22 goals.

The 19-year-old has continued in that form so far this season, kicking five goals across the opening four weeks, including two from 18 disposals in his side's impressive win over Greater Western Sydney last week.

"He's been important for us in the sense that he's a difficult match-up as he can play tall and small," Harley said.

"He's been able to hit the scoreboard whilst finding a bit of the footy, too. He's still improving and has a thirst for knowledge, and we hope the early part of his career shows signs of what's around the corner for him."

Hayward joins fellow 2016 early draft pick Ollie Florent in being tied to the Swans until the end of 2020, while the club has also already locked away gun defender Callum Mills to the end of 2023 and star midfielder Isaac Heeney to the end of 2022.

Harley said the club had made a conscious effort to secure its first-round picks to longer deals early in their stay at the club, having also recently signed last year's pick No.14, Matthew Ling, to a one-year extension.

"There's certainly been a strategy towards that, specifically with our first-round draftees," he said.

"It signals two things – one, we're very happy the players are willing to do that and investing back into the club. And from the club's perspective, we're very happy to have extended time with the players.

"We'd like to think we create as good an environment as possible and that it's reflected in the contract extensions."