Plenty of depth in the Swans’ nest
Reigning Sydney AFL best and fairest Ryan O’Keefe has declared the Swans’ massively revamped list is as deep as any the club has boasted in a long time.
Swans supporters could have been forgiven for approaching the coming season with a sense of trepidation after the events of late last year.
The club missed out on the finals for the first time in seven seasons and lost a host of premiership players including top guns Michael O’Loughlin, Leo Barry, Darren Jolly and Barry Hall.
The Swans supplemented their midfield, ruck and attacking lines through the drafts and were boosted by the recruitment of veteran Brisbane forward Daniel Bradshaw and the return of Irish defender Tadhg Kennelly.
“I think our footy department has done really well over the break,” O’Keefe told AAP.
“I think our list has got as good a depth as we’ve had for a long time.
“Everyone is training really well and the team is really excited.
“We’re really looking forward to having another crack at the finals.”
One of Sydney’s longest-serving players, 28-year-old O’Keefe is one of the relatively few players at the club who can remember the last time the Swans missed the finals back in 2002.
The forward turned midfielder sees some parallels between then and now.
“I see similarities of the rebuild we did after that to what we have got now,” O’Keefe said.
“Hopefully the hard work pays off this year and we can really have another shot at the finals.
“We’re not going to make any boasts about it, that’s what we’re trying to achieve this year and we’ve really got the belief we can do it.”
O’Keefe was a revelation after being switched from his long-standing half-forward role into the midfield a quarter of the way through last season.
He said he now regarded himself exclusively as a midfielder.
“I think I’m still improving in that area and I think I can only get better,” O’Keefe said.
Renowned for his hard running, O’Keefe was among the leaders on Friday at the club’s gruelling run over the Kurnell sand dunes.
O’Keefe said the Swans hadn’t spoken much about this year being the last for long-serving coach Paul Roos, but suggested they wanted to send him out on a high note.
“He’s been a great coach for us, he got the club its most successful period in its history and a lot of us players that have been under him for a while, he’s really helped us grow our careers,” O’Keefe said.
“To send him out on a good note I think would be just deserved.”© AAP 2013
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