A QUICK GLANCE AT 2010:
Ever since that epic premiership in 20o5 and follow-up grand final in 2006, everyone has been waiting for the Swans to fall. But unlike their other feathered friends who have fallen further quicker (Hawthorn and West Coast), the Swans are still up there.
In Paul Roos’ last season as coach in 2010, Sydney rallied to finish fifth – just one game away from fourth spot and a second chance. The Swans continued to reinvent players’ careers, with Josh Kennedy, Ben McGlynn, Mark Seaby, Daniel Bradshaw and Shane Mumford paying off their dues in 2010. Mike Pyke, the Canadian rugby player, also came along quite well, showing there isn’t a limit to what the Swans talent ID team can do.
The question is, was the end of 2010 just a tribute to Roos and the inspirational Brett Kirk or will it flow on to 2011?
Adam Goodes is THE key player, in that without him, the Swans are often lost. But this year look for Kieren Jack, who has done his time as an unfashionable tagger, but could hit the catwalk as a glamorous ball-winner this season. He’s tough, skilled and just about ready to add his name to the elite midfielder’s mix. The Swans lost Patrick Vezspremi, but they levelled it out by swapping him for Andrejs Everitt – he’s also one to watch.
The other player that is equally interesting is Nick Malceski, purely because after having radical knee surgery to fix a pre-season ACL tear two years ago, he’s gone a bit sentimental and done it again. It’s not about what he can bring to the team, but more of a story to watch. It’s about bigger lessons to be learned, injury quick-fixes and what really works.
THREE MOST IMPORTANT GAMES IN 2011
Round 1 – v Melbourne, Sunday 27 March at the MCG.
The Swans usually treat the pre-season with more contempt than most, so it’s the first chance to see what the team is really going to look like in 2011, and what changes, if any, new coach John Longmire is going to bring.
Round 14 – v Collingwood, Saturday 25 June at ANZ Stadium.
This match-up is important because the Swans haven’t beaten the Pies in nine games. It’s not likely to change, but it’s usually interesting to see what is normally a competitive, well-structured team completely fall apart when it comes to Collingwood.
Round 8 – v Western Bulldogs, Saturday 7 May at Manuka Oval.
This game will be played in Canberra, and Manuka Oval is pretty as a picture. It’s Barry Hall verses Sydney and two years ago the game between the two at the exact same venue prompted Roosy to say, “it was probably 40 minutes of our worst footy we’ve played in six years.” Ouch. Time for the Swans to better their record in the nation’s capital.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2011:
The ultimate SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) is gone, and on the surface it’s unknown how much Longmire will change things up. But he certainly has a lot to work with.
The front and back-ends of the Swans’ line-up are solid without being terribly exciting, but their midfield makes up for it by being just that. Goodes, Jack, Jude Bolton, Jarrad McVeigh, Kennedy, McGlynn and Daniel Hannebery are all class. Add in up-and-comer’s like Trent Dennis-Lane, Lewis Jetta and Gary Rohan and there is plenty to smile about for Swans fans.
Of course, they are probably not going to cut it against Collingwood and some of the other big teams – but don’t forget the Swans also have something else motivating them this year. In 2012, they will not have New South Wales to themselves anymore. In the last year to win over fans pre-GWS, the Swans know what is at stake and they’ll be going hell-for-leather to keep as many fans as possible. And what’s the best way to keep people interested? Winning.