AFL

2018 Season Preview – Sydney Swans

Sydney Swans

2017 Recap

The Swans, who have made the finals in 15 out of the last 17 years, have established themselves as one of the most dominant clubs since the early 2000’s. In 2016, the Swans were left distraught after suffering yet another grand final defeat when they were convincingly beaten by the Western Bulldogs, who ended the longest ever premiership drought in AFL/VFL history.

The Swans kicked off season 2017 with an astonishing 6 consecutive losses, including a shock defeat to an ordinary Carlton side. Their best 22 was undeniably severely affected with players such as Isaac Heeney, Dane Rampe, Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh all missing in the early parts of the season with injury.

According to Champion Data’s AFL Prospectus, the Swans biggest concern was their inability to impact the scoreboard regularly, ranking 16th for points scored between rounds 1-6. Defensively, they were just as poor, ranking 13th for points scored against. Sydney’s game plan was beginning to look sluggish, slow, outdated and repetitive. With alarm bells ringing in Sydney, something needed to change. Needless today, the Swans were able to adapt.

The Swans accomplished victory in 14 of the next 16 games and finished a miraculous 6th on the ladder, just missing out on the top 4. The Swans went on to destroy the Bombers in their first elimination final on home turf by 65 points, before they were disappointingly thrashed by the Geelong Cats a week later.

Buddy Franklin went on to win his fourth Coleman medal, kicking an impressive 73 goals for the season, while Luke Parker won the highly prestigious Bob Skilton medal for the second time.

Best 22

FB: Dane Rampe – Heath Grundy – Nick Smith

HB: Callum Mills – Lewis Melican – Jake Lloyd

C: Zak Jones – Isaac Heeney – Nic Newman

HF: Tom Papley – Lance Franklin – Will Hayward

FF: Oliver Florent – Sam Reid – Gary Rohan

R: Darcy Cameron – Josh P. Kennedy – Luke Parker

INT: George Hewett – Kieren Jack – Robbie Fox – Dean Towers

EMG:, Aliir Aliir – Harry Cunningham – Daniel Robinson – Ryley Stoddart

*Hannebery, McVeigh, Sinclair haven’t been selected due to injury with uncertainty surrounding their round 1 fitness.

Best 22 Analysis
With one of the most talented lists in the competition, the Swans will no doubt face difficulties with selecting their best 22 come Round 1. Second year player Oliver Florent has had an ultra-impressive preseason and seems to have further improved many areas of his game.

Promising forward Will Hayward has missed chunks of the preseason but returned to the line-up in the Swans’ second JLT match, kicking one goal. Hayward is an exciting young player and is coming off a 1.4 goal a game average in just his first season at the club.

Sydney’s midfielders Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Isaac Heeney are no brainers, while Jarrad McVeigh will unlikely be available in round 1 due to injury. Mature-age midfielder Robbie Fox may get the go ahead for McVeigh’s spot after two dominant performances in the JLT, where he flourished in his new role in the Swans backline.

Darcy Cameron, who is currently the only injury-free ruckmen available on the Swans list, will be considered as a possible candidate to fill the void for Callum Sinclair and Sam Naismith. However, his only JLT match was particularly discouraging where he was noticeably beaten by Giants ruckmen, Dawson Simpson. The Swans may be willing to trial players Dean Towers or Aliir Aliir in the ruck for added flexibility and versatility.

Key Games

Round 5 v Adelaide @ SCG

The Swans have a fairly tough draw early on and they definitely don’t want to begin their 2018 campaign like they did last year. A round 5 Friday night blockbuster against the Adelaide Crows, is sure to give fans a clear indication and understanding on just how superior Sydney will be in 2018.

Round 22 v GWS @ SPO

By round 22, Sydney could potentially be eyeing off a top four position, signifying just how important this match will be. They face cross-town rivals the GWS Giants, who are one of the competition’s leading premiership contenders this year. If the Swans are serious about going deep into September, they’ll need to be successful in conquering victory over the Giants, as it may be the deciding reason whether the Swans finish in the top four.

 Breakout Player – Callum Mills

After an outstanding first season at the Swans in 2016, Mills was unable to exceed his average from 77, recording a disappointing average of just 73 points in 2017. Mills is one of the most exciting young talents in the competition and is now entering his third season. He’s ready to spend more time throughout the midfield and is predicted to be one of the leading contenders to break out this year. In saying that, I still don’t have the courage to select Mills just yet, but I’m incredibly excited to witness the growth of Mills as a player.

Fantasy Gold – Luke Parker

The two-time B&F winner has had the perfect pre-season thus far and has been one of Sydney’s most noticeable standouts in the JLT series, posting scores of 108 and 118. Parker starts the season at one of his cheapest prices in recent years, an eye-catching $546,000. Parker is only in a tiny proportion of teams thus far, and will no doubt be a fantastic option for those hunting a point of difference player.

 Prediction – 3rd

I can’t see the Swans replicating the disastrous beginning of last year and I’m anticipating them to kick start their season with numerous victories, even with a tough draw. They will be difficult to beat all season and I firmly believe they’re a genuine premiership contender.

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