2017 AFL preview series: Sydney Swans – 2nd

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    Sydney have played finals in each of the last seven years, and 13 of the last 14. They have finished in the top four on the ladder for five years in a row.

    It is an imposing record from a mighty club, and the Swans are sure to further those stats in 2017.

    But, the grand final losses are starting to mount. Being beaten favourites in two grand finals in the last three years starts leaving scars. Supporters are bored during the home-and-away rounds. Sure, they’ll pretend to enjoy the victories mount up (what else are they going to do?), but really they’re just waiting with a mixture of apprehension and fear for the finals to start.

    Tom Mitchell has left, to spearhead the Hawthorn midfield. Ted Richards and Ben McGlynn have retired, Toby Nankervis has gone to Richmond. The latter three were on the fringes of the best team, but were important depth. No-one of significance has come in.

    B Nick Smith Aliir Aliir Zak Jones
    HB Dane Rampe Heath Grundy Callum Mills
    C Dan Hannebery Josh Kennedy Jake Lloyd
    HF Isaac Heeney Sam Reid Lance Franklin
    F George Hewett Kurt Tippett Tom Papley
    Foll Sam Naismith Kieren Jack Luke Parker
    Int Jarrad McVeigh Dean Towers Gary Rohan Harry Cunningham

    Emergencies: Jeremy Laidler, Callum Sinclair, Daniel Robinson

    After years of building a reputation of being the best at recycling lesser players from other clubs, Sydney has just three men in the best 22 that started their careers elsewhere, and they are all marquee names – Buddy Franklin, Kurt Tippett and captain Josh Kennedy.

    But what is significant is that nine players named in the team above started their AFL lives on the rookie list. You can add to that the likes of Luke Parker and Aliir Aliir, taken in the 40s of their respective national drafts.

    The Swans are still the masters of identifying and developing underrated talent, but it tends to be from closer to home rather than from elsewhere these days.

    Academy guns like Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills, who will arguably be the best players from their drafts yet were picked up for snack change, are the icing on a well-constructed cake.

    Isaac Heeney Sydney Swans 2015 AFL

    Sydney are as good as any team at orchestrating the changing of the guard within their side, with the defence as the perfect example.

    Heath Grundy, who returned to his best last year, and Nick Smith are the mainstays, but players like Ted Richards, Nick Malceski, and Jarrad McVeigh have been gradually phased out so Aliir Aliir can get an opportunity, Dane Rampe can flourish, Jake Lloyd can take on more rebounding responsibility, and Callum Mills can slot seamlessly in.

    Zak Jones, after three years on the list, looks like he is ready to graduate to permanent status, having looked most impressive in the JLT Series with his pace and skill off half-back.

    Tom Mitchell is a better player than many think, which he will prove at the Hawks, and he’ll be missed.

    But his absence still leaves a star-laden midfield, consisting of familiar names like Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery and Luke Parker, with support from veterans Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh. Lloyd and Jones will roll through there too, as well as Mills from time to time.

    Of course, what we’re all waiting for is Isaac Heeney to take literal centre stage.

    Heeney’s short career has already included five bags of four goals or more playing as a rotating forward, alternating between deep and high, but it was his preliminary final performance against Geelong last year, as a 20-year-oldin just his 37th game, that has whet the appetite of football fans throughout the land.

    Playing a midfield role, he had team high disposals (28) and clearances (six), along with seven tackles, 13 contested possessions and a goal. A week earlier, in the semi-final against Adelaide, he played an outside game, with 24 uncontested possessions in his 32 touches.

    He’s already one of the best one-on-one marks in the league, and has the capacity to do the simple things well and often, but combines that with a natural flair and ability to pull off the impossible. He’s the closest thing we’ve had to James Hird since the Essendon champion and all-time great retired.

    Unfortunately, Heeney has suffered glandular fever during the pre-season, and so will miss the early rounds. Hopefully it is not too debilitating, as many the year of a young player has never recovered from a bout.

    The Sydney forward line should look different this year, with Sam Reid ready to reclaim his place after not playing at all in 2017, and Kurt Tippett likely to play as a full-forward instead of first ruck, thanks to the rapid improvement of Sam Naismith.

    Buddy Franklin is still the greatest forward flanker the game has ever seen. Tom Papley and George Hewett were revelations last season, both debuting in Round 1 and holding their places in the best 22 for the entire year.

    As good as Papley and Hewett were, the Swans were let down by their bottom six on grand final day, and it speaks to a weakness that may be a problem this season.

    Sydney Swans player Lance Franklin reaches after kicking a goal

    Hewett did nothing, yet was twice the player Gary Rohan was on the day. Papley didn’t touch the ball in the third term with the game in the balance. Jeremy Laidler had no impact. Xavier Richards was so poor he’s not on an AFL list this season. Ben McGlynn retired after an ignominious performance.

    Harry Cunningham went backwards last year, while Dean Towers continues to offer up brain fades and disappointments. Dan Robinson and Brandon Jack are approaching the crossroads. None of these four took part in finals.

    Coach John Longmire has had more wins than losses off the field when it comes to development and has been able to find spots in the 22 for his most talented young players in recent time, apart from the failing that was allowing another year for Adam Goodes, forcing Tim Membrey to leave for St Kilda.

    But Longmire has been torn apart on-field in his last two grand finals, and Sydney’s recent finals record isn’t flattering given the outstanding talent they’ve had on the list. Under Longmire, the Swans have struggled to arrest momentum when it goes against them. If their plan isn’t working on the day, they have little else.

    The Swans will get a chance to set their season up, with five ‘gimmes’ in the opening eight rounds. Away games to the Western Bulldogs and West Coast as well as a clash with GWS are the tough matches. Win one or two of these, and they’re away, with another top-four finish beckoning.

    Sydney’s top end talent means they’ll beat who they should nine times out of ten, and the same quality will ensure competitiveness against the better sides, while they enjoy home ground advantage at the SCG.

    But can they rely on 22 contributors once they get to the pointy end? As the Bulldogs did through September? As Hawthorn did during their threepeat?

    Or will the Swans lower end once again be found out on the big stage, with the big names unable to carry them over the line?

    Predicted ladder spread: 1st-4th

    Predicted finish: 2nd

    Best and fairest: Josh Kennedy

    Leading goalkicker: Lance Franklin

    All-Australian potential: Lance Franklin, Dan Hannebery, Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Dane Rampe

    Rising Star candidates: Oliver Florent

    Cam Rose’s AFL preview series ladder

    2nd – Sydney
    3rd – Western Bulldogs
    4th – Geelong
    5th – West Coast
    6th – Melbourne
    7th – Adelaide
    8th – St Kilda
    9th – Hawthorn
    10th – Richmond
    11th – Collingwood
    12th – Gold Coast
    13th – Port Adelaide
    14th – Fremantle
    15th – Essendon
    16th – North Melbourne
    17th – Carlton
    18th – Brisbane

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (63)

    • March 21st 2017 @ 9:24am
      Tom M said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      Mills and Heeney… Both recently signed huge long term deals locking them to the club till 2022 and 2023. Just isn’t right that the rest of the competition had no access to them.

      • Columnist

        March 21st 2017 @ 9:51am
        Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Yes, it is plainly unfair, but you know, northern clubs, greater good, etc.

      • Columnist

        March 21st 2017 @ 11:20am
        Ryan Buckland said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        Well…they did.

        Henney perhaps less so, given the old academy/father-son system was designed to all-but guarantee academy and father-son players got to their selected destination. But Mills was available for all. Sydney just valued him so highly that they were willing to trade an established player, their first round pick and three picks in the 30s to get him.

        • Columnist

          March 21st 2017 @ 11:39am
          Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

          Which was snack change, and everyone knew it. Everyone else didn’t have access to those players as I understand it? If Sydney wanted them, they got them?

          • March 21st 2017 @ 12:02pm
            Jim said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

            My view on academies is simple.

            If the AFL directly funds (and arguably in that case runs the academies), then the players should go into the general draft pool, with no concessions for the club associated with them and no priority access.

            But if the clubs are expected to put millions in to fund the academies and develop players, then I think it is perfectly reasonable that there are concessions available as a result. What level such concessions should be is of course an ongoing question and area of contention – but I don’t think clubs should be expected to fund academy systems through chivalrous love for the rest of the competition, just to see their millions of $$$ fund a future star for another club, without having some benefit from doing so.

            Yes the swans got a bargain with Heeney, but they paid market value for Mills.

            What is clear is the academy system, in broad terms, is working relatively well (ignoring the GWS zoning element which really is a separate issue) in its broad aim of improving the talent pool available in the Northern states in particular.

            I know its repeated ad nauseum by the Swans whenever talking on the issue, but both Heeney and Mills have spoken on many occasions about the academy being the reason they are playing AFL footy. Other clubs with academies, while not as high profile players, have highlighted examples of players coming through that would likely not be playing AFL without the academies pathway. That is where the academy system is clearly working well – and that should be commended.

            • Columnist

              March 21st 2017 @ 12:09pm
              Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

              I’ve got no doubt the academies have added great value.

              But tell me why supporters of Carlton, Fremantle, Port, Melbourne and St Kilda could care less whether Heeney and Mills play AFL or not? All they know is it makes Sydney harder to beat, and more likely to finish on top of them.

              • March 21st 2017 @ 12:56pm
                Jim said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

                I think this debate is being heavily coloured by the fact the Swans are probably in a current circumstance in which time is likely to prove they have got ‘lucky’, having 2 very high quality players come through the academy within such a short period of time, and at a time when they are doing well on the field.

                If such outcomes become the norm, then its another story altogether (i.e. the academies are pumping out 1st round draft picks on an exceptionally regular basis [again ignoring the ‘fake academy’ players of GWS from the zones down south]).

                But I consider on balance, at this stage, there is strong evidence to suggest that, at this point of time, Heeney and Mills are likely to be an aberration from the norm.

                According to the Swans website, these are players taken in the last 5 years that have come through the academy system and finished up on the senior list. Of those, several were taken in the rookie draft and could of been taken by other clubs well before the Swans ended up taking them.

                Brandon Jack; Lloyd Perris; Sam Naismith; Dan Robinson; Isaac Heeney; Jack Hiscox; Abaina Davis, Callum Mills and Jordan Foote

                Mills and Heeney are obvious standouts. Hiscox, Davis and Perris never made it and have been delisted, BJ is a good chance to be cut at the end of the season, Naismith is a decent prospect, and Foote/Robinson are likely to have reasonable AFL careers, though Foote in particular is still at the fringe at best. This is from an academy that has 600+ kids involved as part of it every year.

                Maybe there has been a step change in recent years and Mills/Heeney player will be pumped out regularly. If that happens, the northern clubs are invariably going to pay more, or will be limited on who they can take (as already has started with the latest changes) – or the AFL takes the obvious step and takes control of the academy, and makes players go straight into the draft pool.

                This debate is simple. If other clubs don’t like it, they should continue to use their collective power to ultimately keep watering them down till there is no value in the investment for the clubs and they don’t bother and disband the academies, or to or they convince the AFL to run them.

                But despite the exceptionally short-term view (in particular in fan land) of ‘why would other clubs care less’, I think there is clear consensus across the AFL that can see developing the pool in the northern states, including players that would not be playing the game without such a pathway as the academy approach, is a good thing for the competition in the longer term.

                Surely, no one in the game can be happy with the fact that, between 2004 and 2014, just 17 New South Wales based players were drafted onto AFL lists – and 7 of them were compulsory zone selections for GWS. That is from a part of the country that makes up 32% of the Australian population. I haven’t seen the QLD numbers for a commensurate period, but I don’t expect they’d be much better either. That suggests pretty clearly to me there is a lot of room for improvement.

                Again, it comes down to the muddled rationale of the academies as they stand. Either have the AFL fund the academies and run them in the broader spectrum of deepening the draft pool – that way no club can whinge. But if they want clubs to fork out big $$$ for them, then I’m yet to hear a convincing argument to suggest they shouldn’t get some benefit from doing so. After all an investment will only be made if there are expected returns from it.

          • Columnist

            March 21st 2017 @ 2:39pm
            Ryan Buckland said | March 21st 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

            It isn’t quite that simple (I started writing a longer explanation but gave up haha I need a white board). But the way the mechanism works means the academy clubs have adequate time to prepare and accumulate assets that allow them to sew up access to their academy players regardless of what other clubs might try and bid for them.

            So they don’t get guaranteed priority access, but in reality that’s how the system works.

        • Roar Guru

          March 21st 2017 @ 12:15pm
          Cat said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

          Valued so highly, or knew they could get a top 10 talent for junk 3rd round picks plus a 20% discount? How many non ‘northern clubs’ get to side step the draft?

          • March 21st 2017 @ 2:05pm
            deccas said | March 21st 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            Your club drafted GAJ in the 40s and no one else had access to him so …

            • Roar Guru

              March 21st 2017 @ 2:30pm
              Cat said | March 21st 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

              You do know GAJ wasn’t even rated by anyone in his draft year, he would have been a 4th round pick at best anyway.

              • March 21st 2017 @ 3:54pm
                deccas said | March 21st 2017 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

                Just the idea that northern clubs are unreasonably benefited when footy state clubs get plenty of FS picks. The best player in the competetion holding out for ages in order to come home to your club is another example of benefits you reap by being victorian.

                I do think the academies need a touch of work to be perfectly fair, but the natural advantages of traditional footy states is a big unfair advantage too.

              • Roar Guru

                March 21st 2017 @ 3:59pm
                Cat said | March 21st 2017 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

                Sorry but I am over straw man arguments so you’re on your own with that.

              • March 21st 2017 @ 4:00pm
                deccas said | March 21st 2017 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

                weird I’ve never seen anyone who argues in good faith talk about straw men.

          • Columnist

            March 21st 2017 @ 2:52pm
            Ryan Buckland said | March 21st 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

            To get themselves into that position, Sydney traded Craig Bird, their first round pick and (arguably) Lewis Jetta for Callum Sinclair (to grease the wheels for the pick 23 for pick 36 & 37 trade with West Coast).

            Sydney punted the first three rounds of the draft, and lost two best 22 players, to get Mills. I wouldn’t get caught up in the numbers attached to the picks they used to match Melbourne’s bid.

            • Roar Guru

              March 21st 2017 @ 3:32pm
              Cat said | March 21st 2017 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

              So if you were a team holding pick 3, would you trade it for Craig bird, Syndeys first round pick (17 was it?) and pick 23?

              I’d think any recruiter that did would get laughed at.

              • Columnist

                March 21st 2017 @ 7:22pm
                Ryan Buckland said | March 21st 2017 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

                Effectively, Sydney used Bird + their first (14) and second (33) round picks to trade up to Mills at Pick 3.

                Sydney held Bird, Pick 14 and Pick 33.

                The first trade was Bird & Pick 14 for Pick 23 and Pick 44 (with Essendon)

                Then they used Pick 23 to trade for Pick 36 & Pick 37 (with West Coast)

                That left Sydney with Picks 33, 36, 37 & 44.

                Mills was bid on at Pick 3 by Melbourne, which Sydney had the assets to match using the portfolio above given the academy club gets a 20% discount on the bid figure.

                I don’t see what’s wrong with this prima facie. The Swans dealt their way into their position. They didn’t get handed Mills for nothing.

              • March 21st 2017 @ 8:30pm
                Maggie said | March 21st 2017 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

                All clubs now have academies. Outside the northern states these are Next Generation Academies (NGAs) which aim to develop multicultural and indigenous players. Some of these academies are sure to bring forward exciting talent. In fact Hawthorn already have ruck prospect Tony Olango in their NGA.

                And as the rules stand (from today) clubs will have more favourable draft rules from the NGAs than the northern academies face. Are the opponents of the northern academies going to be consistent and argue against their clubs being able to draft NGA talent under the discount etc. rules?

      • March 21st 2017 @ 11:38am
        Rich_daddy said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        Heeney was offered huge money on a long term deal to join the Roos. He turned it down and stuck with the Swans.

        • Columnist

          March 21st 2017 @ 2:33pm
          Ryan Buckland said | March 21st 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

          That is true. I’m not sure what point you’re making though.

          • March 21st 2017 @ 3:59pm
            Rich_daddy said | March 21st 2017 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

            To counter the point other clubs don’t have access to him. If you can’t get a star player through the draft you pinch them from other clubs by offering the player more money than what their current club can offer. North offered more money than the Swans, but he elected to stay in Sydney. There is not a whole lot the Swans could have done if Heeney had decided to leave. Either they play hardball and risk losing Heeney for nothing or accept what they can get from North. No club has a lock on any one player for the length of their career.

    • March 21st 2017 @ 9:25am
      Mullo said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      Very good assessment Cam.

      What stands out to me about Sydney is that their ‘system’ is so ingrained, so natural, to seemingly all of their players. It’s as if they literally are bred to have certain characteristics and instincts.

      Watching them first hand in that Prelim final against Geelong I was in awe of the way their players work for one another and setup around contests.

      We shouldn’t forget that they were ahead in last year’s GF for much of the game and were close to the end. I suspect we’d be talking about them as one of the great modern sides had they pulled it off.

      • Columnist

        March 21st 2017 @ 9:53am
        Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Yeah, it’s a good point Mullo. Our opinions certainly do get shaped by hard results more than they should be.

        The Swans would be the best in the league at getting new players to assimilate. A phenomenal base-line they set.

      • March 21st 2017 @ 12:22pm
        I hate pies said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        I reckon Sydney’s system is a flaw for them. They only know one way to play, and if teams take it up to them they don’t seem to be able to find a way out of it. I think they could do with another x-factor type mid fielder. Their mid fielders are all tough and uncompromising, but they’re all very similar too. And they’re all contested ball “inside” type players. They need someone who can break the lines and kick around corners. Heeney may well be that person for them.

        • March 21st 2017 @ 1:20pm
          Jim said | March 21st 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          I agree I hate pies, and its a consistent theme in the Swans worst performances in recent years. Zak Jones may spend some time in midfield – and he can break lines as well. Mills may well spend more time in there too, but he isn’t the line breaker compared to Heeney or potentially Jones.

          • Columnist

            March 21st 2017 @ 1:27pm
            Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

            These are all good points. And it wasn’t a coincidence that the Swans won the flag when Lewis Jetta had his best year and should have been AA.

            • March 21st 2017 @ 1:38pm
              I hate pies said | March 21st 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

              Geez Heeney is going to be a good player.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 21st 2017 @ 9:52am
      Lamby said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      I think Aliir Aliir should be in the All Australian potential as well.

      • Columnist

        March 21st 2017 @ 9:54am
        Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        I considered him Lamby, but thought it might be a bit much in just his second season of senior footy. Even if he was to play 22 games, he’d be needing to be named All-Australian after just 35. I wonder if anyone has been named AA off such few games?

        • March 21st 2017 @ 11:17am
          Tom M said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          Judd maybe?

          • Columnist

            March 21st 2017 @ 11:40am
            Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

            He wasn’t AA until his third season (65 H&A games).

            • March 21st 2017 @ 12:32pm
              Tom M said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

              WOW. Did not know that thankyou Cam

    • Roar Rookie

      March 21st 2017 @ 10:33am
      Antony Pincombe said | March 21st 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

      Cameron I think you misread how important Aliir was in the GF push. He had starred at CHB. To lose him a week before the GF was devastating. We also did the unthinkable and took players who were not match fit into a GF. We have done this under Longmire twice now (2014 was a debacle and we would never have won it but to take unfit players into a game in the first place lowers the confidence of others). Mills and McVeigh were not match ready and should not have played. Longmire has a set of blinkers on in this situation and seems to have the attitude ‘Better the Devil You Know’. There is an old saying that comes from Norm Smith who said ‘never taker players who aren’t right into a final let alone a GF, they’ll be found wanting when it gets tough’. I would have played Towers & Cunningham in the GF.

      I think you are a bit harsh on Robinson as he spent the majority of last season injured after a shoulder reconstruction. He was playing really good footy up until then and his manic pressure was a catalyst to many forward thrusts. Brandon Jack, Towers, Rose, Dawson (unfortunately for Jordan he has spent a lot of time on the injury list but his best is really good so far), Newman, Leonardis all have to show more than a bit this season or…

      Agree with most of what you say and I too think the key to the Swans is in the coaching box and to a lesser extent in the players minds. I think if the right moves are there the players will perform. But if you play the defensive extra against sides like Bullies, GWS, Saints etc you are going to be one down in the mids and because they run the ball you get exposed.The extra in defense is no good if they are running the ball in and kicking over his head. so Longmire has to trust his defensive unit and match teams at the coalface, otherwise no premiership and lucky to make the eight as all sides will start to play us that way.

      • Columnist

        March 21st 2017 @ 11:44am
        Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        I think Dogs fans will tell you how important Mitch Wallis, Jack Redpath, Bob Murphy were and would have been for their premiership push too, and also how they were able to win finals with the underdone likes of Liberatore, Macrae, Roughead and Wood coming off injuries. Frankly, the Bulldogs made no excuses, and thus no other club can either.

        Interesting points all up, and those depth players will get their chance in the early rounds. I wonder if Florent has already gone past those guys.

        • March 21st 2017 @ 12:05pm
          Jim said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          Robinson had a very good pre-season and JLT series, so I think he may surprise a few early in the season if he can carry his form on.

          Dawson is one that I think may also surprise this season.

          I think BJ and Talia are all but destined for the scrapheap if injuries don’t present them with a chance. I’ve always hope Towers would click at AFL level but don’t think he will, while Rose is an interesting one – has shown snippets, but never really gone on with it at NEAFL level to really dominate, which you need to do to be putting consistent pressure on for a top 22 spot.

    • Roar Guru

      March 21st 2017 @ 11:40am
      Connor Bennett said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

      Last year’s Grand Final was a total flop. For a team that averaged well over 100 points a game last season to be held to 60-odd was embarrassing.

      I have no doubt that they’ll continue to tear apart bottom eight teams and win more often than not against their tougher opponents, but they really need to sort out their finals footy.

      As you mentioned, two finals from three years they’ve just collapsed under pressure and they need to find a way to negate that. I like your assessment of their changing talent pool, I think the development of their home grown players is key this year, not so much in their starting side, but their depth.

      Injuries happen, it’s just sport, and they need those young guys to be able to come in without losing any momentum.

      • Columnist

        March 21st 2017 @ 11:49am
        Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Sydney have now lost five of their last seven finals, starting with the 2014 GF, so it’s starting to become a pattern.

        List management decisions over the last few years have meant the Swans will have to rely on their depth, and last year they did it stunningly well. Can they do so again.

      • March 21st 2017 @ 12:08pm
        Jim said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        “Last year’s Grand Final was a total flop.”

        I think to call it a total flop, with the spectrum of the true total flop of 2014 in the rear vision, is pretty harsh.

        After all, the swans were only 3 points down with about 10 minutes on the clock – on another day, with the same scenario, they might have found the extra gear needed to drag themselves over the line.

        They only really collapsed very late in the game with the quick few goals making the margin probably more reflective of the balance of the contest. For a team that did underperform clearly on the day, with several of the bottom six in particular awful, I think it was the mark of a good club that they managed to hang on in the game as long as they did.

        • March 21st 2017 @ 12:24pm
          I hate pies said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          The dogs were on top all day though, other than a 10 minute patch in the second quarter when Kennedy went into beast mode and nearly dragged them across the line. Take that 10 minutes out and the dogs had a 3-4 goal gap all day, which is about right.

          • March 21st 2017 @ 1:22pm
            Jim said | March 21st 2017 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

            Not arguing against that Pies, the dogs were clearly the better side on the day. But to call it a ‘total flop’ is an exceptionally harsh judgment, as despite not performing anywhere near their best, they were still in the game with less than half a quarter to go. That surely is not a ‘total flop’ in anyones book – what the Swans served up in 14, or Port back in 07 is what I would call a ‘total flop’. A disappointing performance sure, but not a ‘total flop’.

            • March 21st 2017 @ 1:39pm
              I hate pies said | March 21st 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

              I agree. A total flop is Port Adelaide against Hawthorn. Sydney were not a total flop. It was a hard fought game.

    • March 21st 2017 @ 11:47am
      Rich_daddy said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

      The Swans badly need another forward target. Buddy was outstanding last year with 81 goals but it was a huge drop to second place to Papley on 29.

      The Swans only managed 10 goals in the GF with Kennedy and Mitchell their only multiple goal kickers. Simply not good enough.

      If the Swans are going to win the flag, they need to find a forward capable of kicking 40-50 goals in a support role to Buddy. Reid inclusion could be crucial, particularly when Buddy pushes further up the field.

      Still not convinced on Tippett, I think he is over paid. He’s a solid mark, but if the ball hits deck he can’t lock the ball in and prevent rebounds because he lacks speed and agility. Still feel he is better playing the ruck.

      • Columnist

        March 21st 2017 @ 11:51am
        Cameron Rose said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        I think Tippett is a better ruckman than a forward too, but he’s had three years of 44+ goals, plus a few other seasons in the 30’s when not playing the full year. I think the right structure for Sydney is Tippett deep forward, Reid and Buddy up the ground, with Naismith in the ruck.

      • March 21st 2017 @ 12:25pm
        Jim said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        I agree Rich_daddy about the importance of Reid for the Swans in 2017. His pre-season games were ok, and certainly by the third one he was looking much more comfortable back on the park.

        As long as the slimline Tony Lockett can help Reid kick straight, he might be in for a good year. I completely agree its a critical area the Swans need to improve. Especially with papley out for quite a while too, they need to find more avenues to goal. Rumours are Kieran Jack is slated for more of a small forward role in 2017 once he returns – but I’m not convinced by that as he has hardly been a really reliable kick for goal.

        Talk this week that Darcy Cameron may play as a tall forward as well. The kid can play, but I’m not convinced by such a move either as it’ll probably create quite a top heavy forward line.

        • March 21st 2017 @ 4:05pm
          Rich_daddy said | March 21st 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

          “the slimline Tony Lockett”

          yeah I have noticed that too. He is literally half the man he used to be!

          • March 21st 2017 @ 9:30pm
            Jim said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

            Yeh certainly a gaunt looking man compared to his playing days. Saying that, I think part of it was the dreadful lighting the Swans had in an interview with him. Looked much better out on the training track the other day in footage, but still only a shadow size wise of the man we all loved when he played footy.

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