WILL Papley remembers how it hit him.

His older brother, Sydney star Tom, had returned to the family home in Bunyip in the Gippsland region of Victoria after the season was officially suspended in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. And he had brought with him an AFL fitness program hand-crafted by the high-performance team at the Swans.

PHANTOM FORM GUIDE Cal Twomey's latest rankings

Papley, obviously rapt to have his older brother back home for a few weeks, was equally as excited to get stuck into some training. Having placed an emphasis on improving his endurance in his draft year, this was his chance to get a taste of what life would be like at the next level.

"That first week with Tom was intense," Papley told

"I had no idea what I was doing at first. I was bloody way behind him. I just thought, 'gee I've got a bit of work to do'. But I eventually caught up."

Had you caught a glimpse of the two Papley brothers training at the family home, you could have been forgiven for thinking you had seen double. The two are a similar height, have a similar build, look very similar and play footy in a similar way.

As for trying to find an AFL comparison for the younger Papley, who remains hopeful of earning his chance on a senior list later this year at the NAB AFL Draft, you don't have to look too far.

"We talk, walk and run the same … I think we play the same as well," Papley said.

AFL recruiters had been keen to see more of the younger Papley at NAB League level with Gippsland Power this season. After a promising 10 games playing in a team alongside NAB AFL Rising Star winner Caleb Serong and fellow first-round draft pick Sam Flanders last year, they had been hopeful of witnessing his continued development in his top-age season.

Obviously, the global pandemic has put those plans on hold. But clubs are still understood to be keen on a prospect who shares a number of traits with his older brother, who this year kicked 26 goals for Sydney in a campaign that earned the talented small forward a place in the 40-man AFL All-Australian squad.

02:48 Mins
Published on

Sydney goalkicking sensation lights it up again

Tom Papley has been in scintillating form for the Swans and he ran amok against Hawthorn

Published on

Gippsland had planned to play Papley more through the midfield this year. In discussing his role in pre-season, the Power had remembered Tom as a "crafty forward with some real midfield presence", but believed Will was a "real midfield presence with some forward craft". It goes to show just how alike they are on the field.

The other thing they both share is their high-level footy IQ. The pair have always stood out to recruiters as players who see the game half-a-second ahead of their opponents through their reading of the play, which is why Papley is still garnering AFL interest even despite an interrupted two years of junior footy.

PHANTOM FORM GUIDE Cal Twomey's latest rankings

"I obviously haven't played a lot of footy this year," Papley said.

"No one has, really. But I also missed a few games with a hip injury last year. I'm just trying to look at the positives. I've always got next year, so I'll just try and get the best out of myself and I'll make sure I'm doing the right things."

Despite the setbacks that a cancelled footy season has provided, Papley has still made the most of a trying campaign. That has culminated in some diligent work with his cousin, Matt Ross, who also happens to be the strength and conditioning coach at Gippsland.

Together, the pair have created and completed new fitness programs for Papley every second week, while the downtime has also enabled the teenager to put an added emphasis on his studies.

His next goal is understandably to earn his chance on an AFL list. But while it's his dream to join his brother Tom in the Sydney forward line one day, that reality of two Papleys in the same side would be a nightmare for opposition coaches.

"Playing with him at the Swans would be awesome," Papley said.

"I wouldn't mind playing against him either, though. We've always had a bit of aggression against each other."