Contract extensions, sold-out home games, and a possible Premiership surround the Sydney Swans as they sit six points clear of second place at the midway point of the 2024 AFL season.


The Bloods have raced out of the gate in the opening 13 rounds, marking their best start to a season since 2018, where they are double the points they were this time last year.


Will Hayward is one of those players who has lifted the Swans above the pack after spending six seasons with the side playing second fiddle to big-game players Tom Papley and Buddy Franklin.


Now, the 25-year-old is flourishing as the team’s top goal scorer, clocking up 22 in 13 games that include two four-goal braces in the past month.


Carlton, Port Adelaide and the Adelaide Crows have all expressed interest in the South Australian player.


Yesterday, however, the forward signed a five-year contract extension with the Red and White, seeing him join Ollie Florent, Errol Gulden and James Rowbottom on the list of continuing players.


Hayward told Central News“I’m really grateful for the club and that they have faith in me. I’ve always been brought up to know loyalty, and it has been a big thing in my family. I was drafted here, and they made me feel like family straightaway.


“It’s a club full of great people. My heart’s always been in Sydney.”


After what he called a “long process” to get his contract extension, Hayward explained he wants to put his contract behind him and focus ahead, expressing why the Swans’ forward line is clicking.


Led by Papley, Hayward, Chad Warner and Logan McDonald, he said the players’ “selflessness” to move around the forward 50 is causing other teams defensive headaches.


Hayward isn’t counting his chickens though and said while John Longmire’s team had found success up front, there’s still half a season to play.


“We can still get better,” he added. “We’ve had a good start to the year, but you can’t rely on the first 10 or 12 games to get you through to the end.


“It’s an even competition; we’ve learnt that already this year with a loss to Richmond.


“[The Geelong Cats have] been a good side since I’ve been in the league, so no teams treated lightly, and we go out there and do what we can just do.”

We know when it’s time to get down to it. I think we all know that we’re building something special here.

The Swans will next take on the Geelong Cats in a 2022 Grand Final rematch at the SCG on Sunday.

Although Hayward denied the club has any jitters over its 2022 Grand Final defeat, Geelong is still a threat to the ladder leaders in his eyes after they ended a four-game winless streak against the Richmond Tigers last week.

He said the team must focus on themselves to get over the line on Sunday.

“Contracts are pretty personal, but [we know] when it’s time to get down to it,” he added. “I think we all know that we’re building something special here.


“When you step over the white line, you’re not worried about nothing else,” he said.

Main image by Seb Tan.