No pressure on GWS’s Patton, says O’Loughlin
Sydney have an AFL bye this weekend, but Swans great Michael O’Loughlin will nonetheless feel like a “proud father” on Saturday when Greater Western Sydney host Richmond.
O’Loughlin’s loyalties are with the Swans but, since retiring in 2009, he’s had plenty to do with the league’s most talented youngsters as an AIS-AFL Academy mentor and coach.
With the Giants boasting so many top draft selections, more than half their list are former AIS scholars.
The one on everyone’s lips this weekend is No.1 pick Jonathon Patton, who will debut against the Tigers at Showground Stadium.
“I was an assistant at that stage when Jonny came through – Jason McCartney did a great job,” O’Loughlin said at the Giants’ new community program.
“He was a really quiet, reserved kid.
“For me, the talent was there, but he just needed to know about how to go about producing on the field against really good, elite players.”
Patton has been compared to Brisbane captain Jonathan Brown since his talents were identified at underage level – high praise given Brown’s efforts over the past 12 years.
While GWS hope Patton will go on to reach Brown’s heights – three premierships, three club best and fairest and a Coleman medal – ultimately, his development will take time.
More time than usual cautioned O’Loughlin, citing the fact Patton underwent knee surgery in January.
“I don’t think we can place too much pressure on him,” O’Loughlin said.
“Yeah, he’s the No.1 draft pick but how many No.1 draft picks have surgery on their knee before they’ve even played a game?
“He’s going to be a really good player … the big thing for him is going to be getting his confidence back.
“But he’s a ripping fellow and he’s got his head screwed on. He’s done the hard work and, hopefully, natural talent takes over on the weekend.”
O’Loughlin said he was buoyed by the prospect of a blockbuster Sydney rivalry when GWS’s young guns develop further.
“I just can’t wait for the next two or three years, when they’re a really good side – those guys and the Swans just butting head.
“The only disappointment I have is I’m not playing against them. I’d love to play a derby in front of a packed house.”© AAP 2013