In the latest of my series of annual reviews is a side that flew up the ladder from an ignominious bottom-four finish last year to being a premiership smokey in 2021: the Sydney Swans.
The Sydney Swans finished sixth on the ladder with 15 wins and seven losses in the home-and-away season.
But for the purpose of this exercise they are effectively seventh overall as a result of their elimination final loss to the Giants in season 2021, by a solitary point.
The Swans had a great start to season 2021, winning all four of their opening four games. They won just four of the next ten games, but thankfully they ended the home-and-away season in 2021 with seven wins from the last eight games.
The Swans had three debutants in season 2021. They only had four players that featured in all 23 games in season 2021. Those four players were Luke Parker, Jordan Dawson, Oliver Florent and Tom Papley.
To be eligible for selection, it’s essential that each player selected featured in at least five games in season 2021. Here are the five players and an honourable mention selected, which the Swans could least afford to lose based on their performances in season 2021.
Honourable mention: Jake Lloyd
Lloyd featured in 22 of the Swans’ 23 games and averaged the most disposals of any Swans player with an average of 27.91 disposals per game. Along with that, he averaged the most metres gained of any Swans player with an average of 468.09 metres gained per game. He used the ball well as he had the highest average disposal efficiency percentage of any Swans player with an average of 87.60 per cent disposal efficiency per game.
5. Lance Franklin
Franklin featured in 18 of 23 games for the Swans in season 2021. He kicked the equal fifth most goals of any player in the competition with 51 goals for the season. Despite that, the Swans won four out of the five games that he wasn’t available to play in. They were able to cope without him in the team, but his still a player that performed well when called upon and was difficult to replace and he was selected in the AFL All Australian squad of 40.
4. Tom Papley
Papley is renowned for being one of the best small forwards in the game. Therefore, he was selected in the AFL All Australian starting 18 for season 2021, in the forward pocket. The reason that his only fourth on the list I have compiled is that the Swans have good depth in the position that he plays in. They also have Isaac Heeney and Will Hayward who are handy players, as they kicked 36 goals and 28 goals respectively. Despite that, Papley has X-factor.
3. Luke Parker
Parker was rewarded for a successful season in 2021 as he was one of four Swans players that was selected in the AFL All Australian squad of 40. He also polled well in the Brownlow with a total of 17 votes. He averaged the third most score involvements of any Swans player with an average of 4.04 score involvements per game and could win the contested ball when needed.
2. Dane Rampe
Rampe had a reasonable season for the Swans in 2021, but he was a tough player for them to replace as the Swans are lacking players that can play as a key defender. Furthermore, Rampe averaged the third most metres gained of any Swans player with 386.70 metres gained on average per game. The Swans only won one game of the three games that he was unavailable to play in.
1. Callum Mills
Mills was selected in the AFL All Australian squad of 40 for season 2021, despite missing four home-and-away games as well as being subbed out due to injury in Round 23. He polled the most Brownlow votes of any Swans player with 18 votes, which equated to an average of exactly one Brownlow vote per game in season 2021. He averaged the third most score involvements of any Swans player with an average of 6.28 score involvements per game. Along with that, he averaged the second most tackles of any Swans player with an average of 5.33 tackles per game, which indicated that he worked hard defensively.