HE'S BEEN one of the quiet achievers of the Swans' month-long winning run and surge into the AFL's top four.

But that wasn’t necessarily meant to be the storyline for Dylan Stephens in 2022.

Top-five draft picks are meant to be headline makers in their third season, but while his ascension to AFL regular may have been belated, like everything else on-field at Sydney at the moment, it’s all finally started to click in the big time for the 21-year-old from Mildura.

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"Yeah it does feel like that a little bit but I’m still far from satisfied," Stephens told AFL.com.au.

Up until round 15 of this season, Stephens had only played 18 games for the Swans, halfway through his third year at the club.

Dane Rampe and Dylan Stephens after Sydney defeated St Kilda in R15, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

But after winning a recall that week, the polished midfielder has flourished on a wing by stringing together a six-week stretch of high-standard footy that demonstrates why the Swans selected him after Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Luke Jackson and Lachie Ash at the 2019 draft.

"It’s been really good. Different parts of the year have been tough and I had about 10 weeks out of the side. To come back in and cement my spot and win as well has been pretty awesome," he said.

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"I just came in with the mindset to give it my all. That’s been similar going into each game and it hasn't wavered from that and that's led to me playing pretty good footy over the last six weeks."

While many outside the inner sanctum of the Swans may have wondered if it would ever work out for Stephens at the club, crucially he has remained calm.

Reassured by those around him that his time would come, he never panicked about whether he would get the chance to deliver on his lofty expectations.

Dylan Stephens celebrates a goal in round seven, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

"I've always known that everyone at the club has stuck with me and believed in my ability and what I could do, it was just about getting my opportunity and taking it," Stephens said.

"There weren't any obvious spots in the side and in the VFL I wasn't playing the greatest footy, so I was more frustrated in that than me not playing in the AFL team."

Amid a hyper-competitive battle for places at the Swans, you'd have excused Stephens for looking elsewhere for opportunities during his exile from the Sydney best 22.

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But there have been no thoughts of a return to the state where he was drafted from in South Australia after being granted a high school scholarship to move there as a teenager.

"It never crossed my mind and that's a good thing, because it can definitely happen to a lot of people.

"I can't really call Adelaide home as I'm from Mildura. I do have a lot of close friends in Adelaide but I really enjoy Sydney, we have a close-knit group here at the Swans and we're all loving it here at the moment, so that hasn't crept in.

Braeden Campbell, Ollie Florent and Dylan Stephens celebrate a goal for Sydney against GWS in round one, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"The important part is I've been lucky to have great people at the Swans, especially great teammates who have really looked after me."

At the time of talking, Stephens was getting ready for an afternoon round of golf with Errol Gulden, Logan McDonald and Chad Warner at the club where they have since all joined as members.

It's a crucial bit of relaxation before flying to Melbourne to take on the Kangaroos and a sign of how tight this hyper-talented group of youngsters is at the Swans.

"There are a lot of boys who are from interstate. We don't have our school friends to go back to like you would in Victoria, we just have each other and we've had each other from the start and that allows us to form that close connection. I was drafted with Chad and we've become great mates, spend a lot of time together and play a lot of golf together."

And while Stephens has become the latest young gun to prove his wares at Sydney over the last two months, it's meant that he's one of several players keeping three-time All-Australian and three-time best and fairest winner Josh Kennedy out of the line-up.

Dylan Stephens and Josh Kennedy after Sydney selected Stephens in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's pretty surreal. It's definitely weird but Joey's been awesome. Whether he's been the sub or injured, he's just so experienced and knows so much about the game. His impact on the team hasn't wavered, especially for us young midfielders," Stephens said.

"The biggest thing is just the pressure that's coming from the two's. Joey, Harry Cunningham, Braeden Campbell who are all certainly worthy of playing AFL footy. It's allowing us to train at our best and play good footy come game day. The club's in a good spot at the moment."