A MOVE to the midfield has been on the cards for Sydney’s Callum Mills for several years, but now that it has happened the question must be asked – should it have happened sooner?
Mills was one of the most highly-rated midfielders in his 2015 draft year, as shown by the Swans being forced to match a bid from Melbourne and claim the Swans Academy product at Pick No.3.
Since then, the 24-year-old has made his name as one of the top half-backs in the competition, being ranked ‘elite’ by Champion Data for both intercept marks and intercept possessions.
A similarly high rating can now be expected for Mills as a midfielder, who is averaging 26 touches a game with five contested possessions.
Clean hands and tidy disposal have continued to be an important feature of his game despite the positional change.
More options and fewer injuries in Sydney’s defence has given Mills the opportunity the play full-time as either an inside mid or on the wing.
He is making the most of it too, picking up coaches’ votes in two of his three games in the new role, including a perfect 10 in the opening round win over Brisbane.
"I had the confidence that I could do it, but I've also had great coaches and great leaders to follow," Mills said.
"That, and being able to do a pre-season in the position and follow 'Joey' Kennedy and Luke Parker."
It's still early days for Mills the midfielder, and he admits he has a lot to learn in his new role.
"[There are] subtle craft things that I'm really keen to keep improving on: body work around stoppages, reaction time when the ball is around you all the time. It's a bit different to defence," he said.
The 189cm Mills seems to have timed his move to the midfield well, with defences across the League under increased pressure after the introduction of new rules to open up the game and promote faster ball movement.
"I do feel for Dane Rampe and the boys back there," he laughed.
"They've done a really good job though, as long as we keep putting pressure on up the field it should be OK.
"The exciting thing is that people are talking about our ball movement, but we still pride ourselves on our defence and our pressure."