18 Teams in 18 Days: Sydney Swans

2017: 6th (14 wins -8 losses; lost in elimination final to Geelong)

Key Acquisition:

Matthew Ling (AFL Draft – Pick #14), Tom McCartin (AFL Draft – Pick #33)

Key Losses:

Jeremy Laidler (delisted), Michael Talia (delisted)

Million Dollar Question

Are the Swans ready to win that seemingly overdue Premiership? It feels as though the Swans are one of if, not the premiership favourite going into every season, but there always seems to be something in the way. Be it a hungrier, more switched on team like the Bulldogs in 2016. The horror start to last season. Even players going missing in the big games at the MCG. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t all come together for the Swans in recent times. With the core group of experienced players still pulling their weight, as well as some younger players coming through, there’s never been a better time for the Swans to strike than in 2018. Will this be the year their loyal sons match onward to victory?

Case For 

It’s Sydney. Brilliantly coached. Supremely talented on paper that also manifests itself out on the field. A culture like no other. The footy world just knows the Swans won’t make the same mistakes they did last season in the shocking 0-6 start. Everything that could go wrong seemed to last year in Sydney, and they’d like to think they wouldn’t get dealt such a bad hand again. The scary thing is, despite losing their first 6 games, Sydney only went on to lose 3 more for the season (including the blowout loss in the elimination final to Geelong), and there’s plenty of room to improve. From the emergence of young stars such as half forward Will Hayward and frenetic midfielder Oliver Florent, to the impact a full season from both Dane Rampe and Sam Reid could have on the team, it’s no wonder many have the Swans tipped as the flag favourites heading into the new season. If they can just find some more avenues to goal besides spearhead Lance Franklin (Franklin averaged 3 goals a game in 2017 while only 4 others averaged more than 1) in 2018, the Swans will be looking good to claim the clubs 6th VFL/AFL premiership.

Case Against

There’s an extremely worrying trend starting to emerge at Sydney, and that’s in regards to some of their biggest name players starting to build a poor MCG resume. Big name players like Gary Rohan, Luke Parker and Dan Hannebery. Parker and Rohan combined for only 20 disposals and 1 goal between them in the embarrassing elimination final loss to Geelong last season, while Franklin only touched it 13 times and kicked 3 behinds. In the 2016 Grand Final, meanwhile, Hannebery and Parker had 41 possessions between them and only 1 goal, while Rohan finished the game with an equal game low 5 disposals. Buddy kicked just 1 goal 1 behind in a match that Sydney were right in up until the final 2 minutes. These players must be able to exorcise their MCG demons if the Swans are any hope of going all the way this season. Interstate teams can simply kiss their premiership aspirations goodbye if they have too many senior players who can’t play their best football there, and that’s exactly the problem Sydney have found themselves with. The Swans will play just 2 games there prior to the finals, with 2 good games against recent rivals Hawthorn and the ever-improving Melbourne to use as an audition for September. If their performances there don’t individually improve, their trophy cabinet won’t either.

One to Watch 

Swans fans got to see plenty of Will Hayward in 2017, and they’ll be hungry to see more of the electric, high flying forward in year 2. In 17 games in his debut season, Hayward kicked a combined 22 goals and 13 behinds, while averaging 9 disposals per game. Though those figures don’t jump off the page, Swans fans will of duly noted Hayward’s willingness to use his pace to chase and pressure opponents, and his desire to do the one percenters. Hayward is one to watch in 2018.

Bold Prediction 

Though the catalogue of poor individual performances at the MCG is starting to build, this is a proud bunch of footballers who will be as keen as anything to prove to the football world that those performances where in the past, and that Sydney as a team means business in 2018. With gun players both young and old littered throughout the team, expect the Swans to make a fast start in 2018, and don’t be at all surprised if there’s red & white confetti falling when all is said and done this season.

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