Is Dan the man? Struggling Swan makes surprising sense for St Kilda

Josh Elliott Editor

By Josh Elliott, Josh Elliott is a Roar Editor

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    Having announced mid-season an end to Tony Elshaug’s tenure as list manager, St Kilda last week confirmed the appointment of former Adelaide player James Gallagher to the role – and it would appear he’s already getting busy.

    Maybe it’s just coincidence, but only a handful of days later, rumour broke that the Saints are targetting 2012 premiership Swan Dan Hannebery, reportedly putting a five-year contract on the table to tempt him home.

    I’ve seen a few on social media criticise the move in the time since as an act of ‘desperation’, targetting a ‘washed up’ player. But personally, I reckon it has the potential to be a canny roll of the dice.

    It’s no secret that the star Swan’s 2018 form has been well below the standard we expect from him based on an otherwise exemplary career up to this point.

    Hannebery’s resume boasts the 2010 Rising Star Award, three All Australian jackets, the 2015 AFLCA Player of the Year award, and of course a premiership medal in 2012.

    His averages of 18 disposals, 2.3 tackles and 2.1 clearances per game in 2018, however, are his lowest in every category since his debut season in 2009.

    At least part of this is the result of injury – a combination of groin and calf problems have prevented him from enjoying any real continuity this year, and he’s played just 11 of a possible 19 games.

    There’s no doubt Hannebery would arrive at St Kilda with some doubts attached, at least in the eyes of us outsiders. But for the same reasons, he might be their perfect fit.

    Dan Hannebery

    (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Hannebery probably isn’t the player Saints fans think of when they imagine their ideal recruit. They’d probably like someone a little younger, a little more blue-chip, arriving in peak form. It’s no secret they made a target of Josh Kelly last year.

    Kelly didn’t come though and the disappointing but undeniable reality is that players of that ilk are not going to fall into their lap at the trade table. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the AFL trade market simply isn’t set up to flow in that direction.

    St Kilda’s strategy to rise up the ladder should be the same strategy that every club should use: draft, and hold. But they’ve been doing that a few years in a row now, and both fans and the club are getting antsy at the lack of progress.

    Their list lacks leadership, so bringing in a mature player with star quality and the ability to inspire teammates is a logical step.

    The problem is those players all want to go teams poised for finals and flags, and the Saints will do themselves no good by cracking on to targets who are out of their league.

    For example, it’s believed St Kilda targeted Rory Sloane as a free agent this year, but despite him being a native Victorian and a fan of the club growing up, it never seemed likely.

    Sloane ultimately opted to re-sign with Adelaide, but most of the talk before then was that if he came home to a Victorian club, it would be Hawthorn.

    Hannebery might have a question mark or two hanging over him, but that’s exactly why he might be gettable.

    Dan Hannebery

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    The big question should not be whether Hanneberry is a good fit for the Saints, but instead a question of how much he will cost. From a risk-reward perspective, there’s plenty of potential for reward, but we need to know the price to judge the risk.

    Are the Saints look at trading away their first selection either this year or next to land Hannebery? If so then it’s an automatic no – they’re going to have a a high pick this year and next year’s might not be much different. It’d be a brainless move.

    I doubt the Swans are going to ask for that though. On the rare occasion that players do want out of the club, they’ve typically been happy to accept relative unders in order to make the process as painless as possible for player and club.

    Consider, for example, that they accepted the low price of pick 14 for Tom Mitchell at the end of 2016 when he left for Hawthorn, or that they were willing to delist Tim Membrey at the end of 2014 so that he could sign as a delisted free agent with St Kilda when a deal could not be worked out.

    The Swans would presumably have committed to a significantly valuable contract for Hannebery given he last signed when he was at the peak of his powers, and if their salary cap is looking a bit tight – or even if it isn’t – they might see letting him go as a good way to clear space.

    Maybe they need to do something like that just to release the pressure valve, or maybe it’s something that would give them the opportunity to be more aggressive in pursuing new talent from opposition clubs this offseason and in the future. They’re already known to be courting Darcy Moore.

    St Kilda have already traded away their 2018 second-round pick, so I’d expect if a deal is done then it’d be for the Saints’ 2019 second-rounder, a fair price especially if the addition of Hannebery (and a looming reshuffle of assistant coaches) can see the club jump a few spots up the table in 2019.

    Depending on just what Sydney’s balance sheet looks like and how motivated they are to sell, it might even be cheaper than that.

    If I were the Saints, I’d also be talking to Nic Newman – he could probably be thrown into the deal for free – and with Jarrad McVeigh, though he would presumably come separately as a free agent if the move eventuated.

    Dan Hannebery

    (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

    Get Hannebery and maybe something extra for a future second-round pick and it could be a bargain. If he gets back to his best or close to, then Hannebery is exactly the kind of player St Kilda’s list needs.

    In addition to his value as a player alone, Hannebery who would be a significant boon to St Kilda’s leadership stocks and is the type to have a genuine impact on his fellow players.

    Think back to his performance in the 2016 grand final. For those who don’t remember, Hannebery went down with what looked like a serious knee injury. There were fears he had done an ACL – luckily, he had not, but no one expected to see him back on the field.

    With the game fading out of the Swans’ grasp, Hannebery forced his way back onto the field and involved himself in the play.

    No, it didn’t win Sydney the flag – but it was one of the more Herculean and inspirational efforts I’ve ever seen from an individual player.

    It’s clear Hannebery needs a change of fortune. That could come in a variety of different ways, and a fresh start at a new home is just one of them. But it’s one he definitely should consider, especially if it comes with extra contract security.

    Hannebery is already contracted until the end of 2021 with the Swans, so the deal from the Saints would give him a further two years guaranteed until the end of 2023.

    Maybe Dan Hannebery needs a change like St Kilda. I reckon St Kilda could use a change like Dan Hannebery.

    Josh Elliott
    Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott may be The Roar's Weekend Editor, but at heart he's just a rusted-on North Melbourne tragic with a penchant for pun headlines - and also abnormal alliteration, assuredly; assuming achievability. He once finished third in a hot chilli pie eating contest. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshElliott_29 and listen to him on The Roar's AFL Podcast.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • August 8th 2018 @ 8:44am
      Sugar Coated itch said | August 8th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      I don’t Sydney will sell him that easily – they will not make the mistakes of the past such as for Mummy, Mitchell etc . Fit Hannerbery will recapture his form and therefore more valuable to the Swans!!!!

    • Roar Rookie

      August 8th 2018 @ 9:10am
      Andrew Graham said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Future second round for a contracted player when the midfield is already looking depleted? Yeah Swans aren’t going to go for that. Especially now that Tippett’s salary will only tip a little into 2019. They’ll want two second rounders at minimum.

    • Roar Guru

      August 8th 2018 @ 9:15am
      TomC said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      The thing is that all the reasons he’d be useful to the Saints still apply to the Swans, so unless they have some inside knowledge that Hanneberry has some underlying problems I’d be surprised if they’d let him go for a future second round pick.

      Maybe if they really need the cap space for someone specific but the scenario Josh outlines – clearing away Hanneberry to make space for Moore – seems a bit mad when you look at what those two players have accomplished.

      • August 8th 2018 @ 11:38am
        Jim said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        Surely the Swans will have the cap space available for Moore really if they want him anyway, with Tippett gone and most likely at least one if not both of Grundy and McVeigh going as well – plus potentially Lloyd if he takes the big $$$ from elsewhere. I’d doubt that the disposal of Hannebrey would be needed to get Moore in.

    • August 8th 2018 @ 9:49am
      Johnny Banter said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      A future 2nd round pick? Why would Sydney go for that when he’s contracted? Sydney need midfield help for Kennedy, not a future 18yr old kid.

      Tom Mitchell is a poor comparison because he was out of contract and throwing his toys, whereas Hannebery is contracted and happy to stay at Sydney from all reports.

      Hannebery’s 2017 was a write off after suffering that knee injury in the 2016 GF and subsequent osteitis pubis. 2018 he again had no pre-season and repeated groin & calf complaints. I get that this means Sydney would be trading him at his lowest value but they’re going to look ridiculous if he gets through pre-season next year and goes on to play an injury free season with the Saints.

      Saw a suggestion that it’s a salary dump but I think that’s shallow analysis. We know there are a few senior Swans likely to finish up this year, plus Tippett gone (albeit with some $$ to carry over to 2019), plus suggestions of Lloyd, Newman and other fringe types out.

      Sydney has to get fair trade value for this to have any hope of going through.

      • August 8th 2018 @ 11:08am
        Angela said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        Lloyd a fringe-type? I hope he stays. Very valuable player for Swans I would have thought.

        • August 8th 2018 @ 11:10am
          truetigerfan said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          Yeah, that made me laugh, too.

        • August 8th 2018 @ 11:32am
          Johnny Banter said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          No I meant those two things separate from each other.

          Lloyd, Newman, and (Rose/Robinson/Foote/Towers/etc)

          • August 8th 2018 @ 11:48am
            Macca said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:48am | ! Report

            Would you throw Rohan in as well? I saw a report he may be looking to get back to Victoria.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 11:51am
              Johnny Banter said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

              Rohan seems very settled in Sydney at present.

              Having said that, I think the Swans might be very active during the trade period this year so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few names like that pop up.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 4:02pm
                R'n'R said | August 8th 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                I thought the Mitchell throwing his toys was the silliest bit.

      • Roar Guru

        August 8th 2018 @ 3:23pm
        DingoGray said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:23pm | ! Report


        you can’t be serious about getting rid of Newman. He’s one of the Swans best up and comers…….

        • August 8th 2018 @ 3:28pm
          Johnny Banter said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

          Make an offer Dingo, he’s yours! Sydney’s #2 for clangers, #2 for turnovers.

          Could be a handy contributor to various other clubs, but he can’t handle the physicality of the Swans ugly game plan.

          • Roar Guru

            August 8th 2018 @ 3:31pm
            DingoGray said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

            No thanks Johnny…..

            We’ve already got one of those……Actually we’ve got a few of them. Mssers Lester, Bewick and few others say hello.

        • August 8th 2018 @ 4:43pm
          Jim said | August 8th 2018 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          He goes ok Newman, but his clangers and turnovers are really hurting – not convinced he is good enough in that respect for AFL footy.

    • August 8th 2018 @ 11:18am
      Jim said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

      Buyer beware with Hannebrey imho. On the basis that, if they are comfortable with getting him right and firing, then the Swans surely won’t let him go (unless he makes it clear he wants to go), given midfield is their clear problem area. However, if the swans are willing to let him go relatively easily, then surely that would suggest they think he won’t be getting back to a level anywhere near his best – and in that case, he would be a dud player to give a 5 year contract to.

      As for a 2019 second round pick only – no hope. I’d say next years second round pick plus some form of horse trading that ultimately leads to the swans getting either upgrading their 1st round draft pick, or being able to move their 2nd pick up quite a bit (noting St Kilda already has traded away draft picks from this year).

    • August 8th 2018 @ 11:46am
      Macca said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the blues took a look at Hannebury if the asking price was a future second rounder – Carlton already have the bulldogs and Adelaide’s second round picks this year (and possibly a start of second round priority pick) that I am confident the Swans would see as more valuable than St Kilda 2019 second round pick.

      I would really be surprised if you got Hannebury and a set of steak knives for a second rounder – given he is yet to turn 28 he has plenty of good football left in him if he can get his body right.

      • Roar Guru

        August 8th 2018 @ 6:55pm
        Pumping Dougie said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

        That makes sense to me Macca – Hannebery would be a great fit at Carlton. But would Carlton (or St Kilda) be a good fit for Hannebery? I think he’d be a fool to go to any club that wasn’t likely to play finals, considering he could probably pick any club he liked. The sole motivation for going to a lower club for him could only be a significant pay offer disparity.

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