THERE is an NFT craze going on at Waverley Park right now and Will Day is one player at the centre of it.
Along with gun small forwards Dylan Moore and Luke Breust, Day spends plenty of his down time researching and dabbling in cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens.
They are winning, losing and breaking even – much like Hawthorn in 2022 under new coach Sam Mitchell.
‘IT WILL BE UP TO HIM’ Hawks invite Rioli to Darwin match
Day is back on the park after an injury-interrupted 12 months, playing the past three games – and five of the first eight – but it is his interest in NFTs that makes people inside Hawthorn grin when Day’s name is mentioned.
“Pretty much as soon as they hit the scene, we heard about them a bit and dipped our toe in the water. We ended up researching a bit about them and really liked the concept about them,” Day told AFL.com.au this week.
“Since then, moving forward we’ve been in a few projects, done a bit of trading here and there. It’s been a bit of fun. It could have been more successful if we got out at the right times. But overall, we haven’t lost anything, we’re just having a bit of fun with it.”
Day burst onto the scene in 2020, producing 11 eye-catching performances on the road that showed why Hawthorn pulled the trigger on the lightly built half-back at pick No.13, when others questioned the selection.
But since then, things haven’t gone to plan for the Sacred Heart product. He was limited to only five games last year due to two separate ankle surgeries that left him wondering when it would finally be fixed.
MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list
While other first-round picks from his 2019 draft class – Noah Anderson, Luke Jackson, Caleb Serong, Tom Green and Kysaiah Pickett – have enjoyed a dream run to date, Day has been forced to deal with injury setbacks early in his career, just like No.1 pick Matt Rowell.
The 20-year-old missed the first two games of this season before being substituted out of his second game back after receiving a concussion in a collision with Paddy Ryder – the bump that ultimately cost the St Kilda veteran two weeks on the sidelines – and saw Day miss another week.
“It was frustrating because the ankle was an injury that you can’t really avoid. Obviously breaking the ankle the first time set me out for a period – that was frustrating in itself – but then to come back and aggravate it again and go in for the second surgery, that’s when it started to take a toll on me,” he said.
“Being ruled out for the rest of last season was pretty tough, even missing the first two of this year just felt like it was never going to end. Now that I’m getting some games under my belt, I can put it in the past and go forward. I’m really looking forward to just being able to not really think about the ankle.
“Definitely with each game I feel like I’m getting a little bit more confidence and that match fitness that you don’t get when you’re not playing. Every game I play, you start to get a bit of confidence and really work myself back into it, which is nice.”
The West Adelaide product is content playing across half-back right now, but his future lies in the midfield. That transition would have started this year, but with his ankle taking longer to recover than initially anticipated, Mitchell parked the move until next pre-season.
“I think at the moment I’m pretty comfortable down back, especially because my body isn’t where I think it’s going to be when I’m in my prime,” he said.
“I think at the moment on the half-back is the right option, but definitely going forward, I want to get back into the midfield. I played all my juniors there until the boys got a bit bigger and pushed me out. It’s definitely something I’d be keen to do in the future.
“I did initially start training as a midfielder (during the pre-season), but having chats with Mitch, and with the ankle going on a little bit longer than we’d hoped for, I think we both agreed that going back to the half-back and just getting comfortable again was the right option. Definitely next pre-season I’ll look to go up and train with them a bit more.”
Alastair Clarkson coached Day for his first two years before Mitchell took over the reins late last year, but the four-time premiership coach hasn’t disappeared completely from Day’s radar.
Clarkson was spotted in the background of a video that went viral on social media last month. While NBA fans watched Golden State Warriors superstar Klay Thompson arrive for a playoff game at Chase Centre in San Francisco, eagled-eyed AFL fans were more interested in the 54-year-old checking into the arena behind him, amid a fact-finding mission in the United States.
“It was actually funny, Finn Maginness sent through the video to a few of us. We just thought he was sending through a video of Klay Thompson, but then he told us to look a bit closer. And then you see Clarko pop up out the back,” he said.
“It just shows the connections he has. He has been able to go over there and work with one of the greatest teams in the modern era. It just shows the network he has from all the great work he has done.”
Day has famous Hawthorn lineage. His grandfather, Robert Day, played across half-back in the 1971 Grand Final win over St Kilda, alongside club icons Leigh Matthews, Peter Hudson and Peter Crimmins, under AFL legend John Kennedy Sr.
Hawthorn hopes he will be the next Day to win a premiership, regardless of whether he is playing in defence all through the middle of the ground. By then, investors might be pouncing on Day-related NFTs.