2016 in review part 5: the players

2016 in review part 5: the players

This is the 5th and final article in a series of 5, following on from part 4. You can read from the start by visiting part 1 here. This article will discuss the senior players’ performance throughout the season.

Few could argue that Josh Kennedy was a deserving winner of the Swans best and fairest award, with another stellar season and excellent finals campaign. Battered and bruised, he lifted the Swans higher than ever, almost dragging them across the line. His finals were the best he’s ever had, with absurdly good performances against GWS, Geelong and the Bulldogs, with one of the all time great first half performances in a grand final. Unfortunately though, there just weren’t enough players around him to carry the team to the end, and he often cut a lone figure wrestling the ball and getting it forward.

The order of finishers of the best and fairest shouldn’t have surprised many, with Hannebery and Grundy having arguably career best seasons. While Parker went a close 2nd  in the Brownlow medal, to the imperious and oft favoured Dangerfield, he didn’t quite reach the same lofty heights with the club, finishing 4th.

It’s hard to look at the season as anything else but a success. An ageing backline was by far the biggest concern, with no one looking likely to step up. Talia was recruited from the Dogs, but with 30 games under his belt, he was just as untried as the rest of the options. Richards wasn’t supposed to start playing as soon as he did, and it’s possible that he wasn’t supposed to play much at all, staying in the shadows as a backup player when needed.

Onwards and upwards they say as we review the players’ performances.

Defenders

Heath Grundy, Full Back, 3rd B&F, 26 games
9/10

Heath had his career best game and was an outstanding player for the Swans throughout the finals. He conceded just 1 goal against his opponent in the first 3 games and was one of the Swans best in the losing grand final.

With Swans’ favourite defender, ever reliable old man Richards missing much of the season, Grundy took charge, nurturing and leading the young Swans backline with aplomb, leading them to the season lowest score against, as well as the lowest since St Kilda ’09.

His finals performances reiterated just how good he was throughout the season, frequently amongst the best Swans on ground, especially against the Hawks in round 9, when he was padding the stats in the last quarter, already down Richards with concussion.

He is ageing and it’s no doubt a concern for the club, but if anything he’s been an extremely consistent full back for half a decade now. It’s a disgrace that he didn’t even make the All Australian 40 squad this season. It’s only because of media fawning and King having an eruption every time he hears the name Rance, since he so publicly gushes about him all the time, not to mention Dingbat Darcy prancing around like a punce.

Nick Smith, Back Pocket, 9th B&F, 25 games, Club life membership
7.5/10

Nick had another consistent season, finishing in the top 10 of the Swans’ B&F once again. He was consistently in the best 5-10 players on the ground and rarely beaten by his direct opponent. While Cameron got off the leash in the semi-final, Smith kept Betts in his pocket all game long.

While he’s a great defensive player and stopper, his disposal lets him down and it occasionally hurts the Swans, especially when they struggle to move the ball out of defence. It’s something that he needs to work on in the off-season.

Zak Jones, Back Pocket, 16 games
7/10

An outstanding breakout season for the pocket dynamo. His ability and crazy hardness has always been known, but for stalwart Rhys Shaw playing the same position and Smith’s freakish run without injury, Jones always had limited chances.

Dealing with his own set backs throughout the season, he mixed occasional brilliance with brain farts, but was an excellent addition to the finals team, especially against Geelong. Overall he had a very good finals series and there’s much more to come from the player.

Harry Cunningham, Back Pocket, 18 games
5/10

Not a good season for the young man, who’s failed to nail down a starting position in his preferred win and forward flank roles. He appears to be going through the motions in the same way that Rohan did in 2014, when he fluffed about as a forward, but had all the ability and potential to make it work.

Cunningham was tried as a forward, winger, midfielder and finally (and more permanently) as a back pocket in the latter parts of the season. His run and carry was at times important, but he lets himself down far too often with safe decision making, average disposal and poor vision. Worst of all, his work rate and tackling pressure is mostly poor.

Harry Marsh, Back Pocket, 7 games
6.5/10

Marsh stepped up to the plate when Laidler went down, performing well in his role as a stopper, but offering little as an attacking defender, in a game dependent on attacking from defence. Not to say that one cancels out the other though, because he was typically excellent as a defender, rarely beaten and had bags of pace.

His disposal was tidy, reliable and he kept it simple. He was playing well enough in the latter part of the season to keep Laidler out of the team. He was dropped for the Grand Final after a good finals performance, especially against Geelong.

Dane Rampe, Back Pocket, 5th B&F, 26 games, All Australian
8.5/10

The Swans’ only All Australian defender in 2016 (should have been Grundy too), he was excellent throughout the season, taking over the centre half back role from Richards and swapping with Aliir during games.

He routinely beat his direct opponent, often giving away more than 10cm and 10kg. His semi-final and preliminary final stich-ups are games for the ages, dominating Walker and shutting him completely out of the game.

While his first and last finals games will leave a bit to be desired, he was definitely one of the Swans’ best performers throughout the season. He was rightly rewarded with All Australian selection, and perhaps it went to his head, because he was borderline disgraceful against GWS. But he learned from it and was back to his excellent best against Adelaide and Geelong.

Michael Talia, Centre Half Back, 1 game
1/10

If I had a poo-o-metre, this guy would be drowning in poo-emojis, and I still wouldn’t throw him a paddle.

His first game showed a bit of promise. Not quite quick and decent with his skills and positioning, he was very unfortunate to suffer a foot injury near the end of the game.

But then he did something that was nothing short of disgraceful, narrowly avoiding a conviction for drug possession. Suspended by the club and forced to work his way back in, who knows what ’17 has in stall for him, because there’s no way in hell that he’s pushing AA out of the team, and you would have to think that Marsh is also ahead of him, and Johnson too if he can overcome injury.

Aliir Aliir, Centre Half Back, 13 games, Dennis Carroll Most Improved
8/10

Aliir who, most people were asking in round 6 when he started his first game. The ever present smile, gangly and slightly awkward legs and running style and freakishly athletic moments brought warmth to our hearts that only few have.

Fast forward to the finals and not only was he was easily one of best players, he was one of our most important. Alongside Mills, his intercept marking and possessions were absurdly good, immediately into the elite category (something that King loved to bring up at ever opportunity) and his pace and balance was absurd!

North Melbourne did their home work and exploited him in round 22, but he came back better from it and was excellent in the finals until his unfortunate injury ruled him out.

The Swans did a nice wrap-up of him and interview for their end of season player reviews.

Ted Richards, Centre Half Back, 8 games
4/10

Club stalwart and champion Ted Richards hung up the boots at the end of the season, grimly hanging on for a last grand final outing. When looking at his season in reflection, he played a role, filled gaps that needed filling, but his days of strongly contributing and winning matches with his defensive work was over.

He managed a best on ground and an absolutely ridiculous mark, and a fantastic goal in his last games, but the losing performance against Hawthorn when played as a forward, of the concussion against the same team, will perhaps be the last memories of the great man. He was in the team as a stop-gap until someone else could fill the breach, and the Swans found their man in Aliir.

With Aliir playing senior football, Richards was back in the reserves. Unfortunately, his final act in football for either Swans team was allowing the grand final winning goal against the GWS to bounce over his head, watching forlornly as he lay on his back, no doubt contemplating the embarrassing fall he just had.

Callum Mills, Half Back Flank, 22 games, Rising Star
8/10

Mills couldn’t have had a better first season. He missed just 2 regular season games but twanged his hamstring in the first final, barely making it back for the grand final. Unfortunately for the Swans, it wasn’t a gamble that paid off. It took a while for him to grow into the grand final, but at least he wasn’t as bad as McVeigh.

His composure from half-back was immediately evident in the first game against Collingwood, and he grew every game. He was the standout favourite for the rising star award from round 3, but the AFL’s farcical management took until almost the end of the season to nominate him.

His defensive combination with Aliir Aliir was ridiculously good and steadied the Swans in the 2nd half of the season, especially when they struggled to get anything going forward. Their intercept marking was excellent and ranked as elite, top 10 of all AFL players, incredibly for players that played their first AFL games that year.

Jeremy Laidler, Half Back Flank, 16 games
6/10

Another season for Laidler and his contract was renewed early in the season. Perhaps it went to his head, because apart from his intercept marking, which was excellent, his casual performances were disappointing. His grand final was especially disappointing, considering Marsh made way for him to enter the team. Marsh performed so well as a defender, he kept Laidler out of the team when fit.

As a stopper he does the job, but with ball in hand, the Swans need a 19th player on the field, because he turns it over like there’s no tomorrow. He was especially culpable in the grand final first quarter.

Jarred McVeigh, Half Back Flank, 21 games
5/10

It’s hard to see what lies ahead for McVeigh. He came into the season without a pre-season, looked rusty and shot from the first game and look rusty and shot in the last game. He looked so shot, it would have been considered mercy to take him out the back behind the shed.

Voted as the Swans worst on ground in the grand final by almost all and sundry, he forced his way into the team at the expense of Harry Marsh and was putrid. His season highlight reel is unquestionably shorter than seasons past, and when his pace dropped off, he was all but useless.

Perhaps the worst selection by the Swans all season was picking him to play as a defender in the grand final.

Alex Johnson, 0 games, 1 ACL injury, Clubman of the year
n/a

2016 just wasn’t to be for the young man with another season ruined by serious injury. He must stepped on a black cat while walking across a grave in a past life, because he hasn’t played a minute of senior football since the 2012 grand final, suffering 5 ACL injuries (most of them because he’s just bad with germs). He’s well liked throughout the club and wider AFL community, recently resigning with the Swans and returning to training.

Midfielders

Dan Hannebery, 26 games, 2nd B&F, All Australian, Club life membership
9/10

Is there anything that hasn’t already been said about Hannebery? If getting creamed in the ’12 grand final first quarter wasn’t enough, he threw himself at everything in the ’16 decider, not to mention the rest of the finals and throughout the regular season. Many times he looked to have been wiped out by a bus, but a quick swig of the miracle juice and he was back on the field playing like he was fresh as a daisy.

His outstanding season was only just bested by the amazing finals performance of Josh Kennedy, finishing runners up in the clubs’ best and fairest, as well as the finals MVP medal, both to Kennedy. All Australian once again, he can go the next step in ’17 and win that Bob Skilton Medal.

Josh Kennedy, 25 games, 1st B&F, 3 time club champion, All Australian, Finals MVP, Club life membership, Paul Roos Player of the Finals
9/10

Another great season and outrageous finals series, taking out the inaugural finals MVP award. He capped off a storming finish with another Bob Skilton medal, another All Australian and the Swans’ Paul Roos Player of the Finals.

He just bested out Hannebery in most award categories, especially with his club 50 points in the grand final seeing him over the line. His grand final first half, especially the 2nd quarter, was one of the best finals performances you’ll ever see. It’s just a shame that the club didn’t have enough players to contribute to the win.

Tom Mitchell, 26 games, 8th B&F
7.5/10

The precocious and often difficult contract negotiator, had another excellent season, even if it wasn’t reflected with a higher finish in the clubs B&F. Along with Kennedy, he stepped up big time in the finals, starring against the Cats and Dogs. While Kennedy was killing it in the 2nd, Mitchell was right with him, banging in goals and playing a pivotal role. While his decision making at times was poor, and his disposal worse, he became an important member of the Swans midfield.

Unfortunately, he no longer plays for the Swans. Father/son means nothing these days, barely seeing off the Blues, a club his father played for before flirting with Hawthorn all season long.

Luke Parker, 26 games, 4th B&F, All Australian, Runners up Brownlow Medal
8.5/10

A ridiculously good start to the season had him leading early in the Brownlow medal count with the highest ever points tally at round 6, starring in 4 games. What might have been for the young midfielder, was curtailed by injury, battling through knee tendonitis for much of the of the season (that’s painful!). He recovered in time for the finals, bringing the ham back just in time. But the Christmas Grinch was already banging the door down to steal that ham, gifting him with another knee injury in the preliminary final win against Geelong.

Averaging almost a goal a game, Parker was occasionally used to great affect as a goal kicking midfielder, with his impressive overhead marking only bested by the supremely athletic Isaac Heeney. However, he’ll want to work on his set shot kicking in the off season, since he started shanking them when he used to be reliable.

An interesting stat to note is that he averaged more than 1 hit out per game. Not bad for a guy standing barely 6’1.

Kieren Jack, 25 games, 10th B&F
6.5/10

Kieren Jack returned to form rarely seen since 2012 early in the season, starring in the win against Collingwood with his trademark two-way running. His form ebbed and flowed throughout the season, occasionally on the periphery against teams with fast outside players, and sometimes in the guts when Mitchell, Hannebery and Mitchell were well curtailed.

It’s hard to see where he can improve as he gets older, but playing that important link role between the forwards and midfielders gets the best out of him. Long past are the days when he could mix it in the middle with the best, so it’s time to move him to a flank and get goals out of him.

If there ever was a man you wanted in the trenches, he’s your man. He racked up big tackle numbers again in ’16, tackling 10 or more on 3 different occasions and averaging almost 6 per game. Only Luke Parker and Tom Mitchell were better, with Parker tackling Melbourne a ridiculous 17 times in round 13.

Jake Lloyd, 26 games, 7th B&F
6.5/10

Epitomising the ideal qualities of Mr. Consistent, if you were to look up the word consistency in the dictionary, the lightly built midfielder would be smiling back at you. His season was once again good, often playing an important link role between defence and midfield, with half of each game typically tracked between centre and the back flank.

His run and penetration was often important, occasionally critical, to getting the ball moving fast into the forward line. He’s certainly improved on his tackling ability, but definitely needs to step up the tackle count, barely averaging more than 2 a game.

Criticism on his game typically come around to two factors, his slight frame and his disposal under pressure, and it’s something that has to be addressed if he’s going to improve as a player. Far too often under pressure he turns it over, or is shrugged aside in the tackle. Even though he averaged more than 24 disposals per game in ’16, his penetration was asset that fell by the way side when opposing teams targeted him.

Isaac Heeney, 24 games
6/10

The supremely talented and athletic midfielder finished off the season in style, with an excellent finals campaign resulting in a close to best on ground performance against the Cats.

It wasn’t all sun and roses, with his early season form quickly teetering off the edge of a cliff after the break, accumulating in his forced absence from the team. He publicly stated that he was physically exhausted and a return to the reserves yielded immediate result.

He bounced back in the senior with aplomb, but once again faded towards the end of the season. He was once again quiet in the qualifying final and criticised for it, but picked up 32, 28 and 22 in the final 3 games, as well as best on ground against Geelong.

His best position is undoubtedly in the midfield

Dean Towers, 13 games
4.5/10

Another season gone and another dozen struggling games. He started the season in the side, but was unable to capture the magic that took hold of him against Fremantle in the ’15 qualifying final loss. A few flashes in the pans aside, he was mostly poor, kicking just 10 goals and ultimately usurped by Xavier Richards. Constantly in and out of the side for various mistakes, such as the various game losing turn overs (cough Richmond cough) or poor decisions, or poor work rate, or just not capable of laying a single tackle.

The forward-cum-midfielder dabbled in the transfer market, playing the field to see if anyone would nibble with the Swans’ contract offer still ever present (learn your lesson Xavier, don’t burn bridges). He finally accepted the offer after the close of trade period.

His best position is undoubtedly on the wing, but whether or not he has the capacity, technical ability and concentration to become a good wingman is yet to be seen.

Dan Robinson, 7 games
5/10

Ever present in the team from the start of the season, the often maligned slug, I mean player, was struck down by injury in round 7. Arguably he was on his way out of the team, with starring roles yielding a mediocre average of 10 disposals per game over his past 4.

With Mills and Heeney mooted to play in the midfield, it’s difficult to see when and where he’ll play again in ’17. More than likely he’ll spend the majority of the season plying his trade in the reserves waiting for an injury.

Jordan Foote, 1 game
4/10

A lot has been said about this player, and with an impressive debut there’s undoubtedly more to come. However, his maiden game was in round 18, which means he wasn’t able to force his way into the team before then (even Hiscox got a crack in round 8), nor could he keep his spot, even with debutants such as Papley, Marsh, Mills and Hewett mainstays in the team.

It’s too early to tell anything about his career, but he’s going to have to work even harder in ’17 to force his way into the team. If he’s stuck behind Robinson, his chances of getting a game will be limited at best, especially if Mills & Heeney move in the midfield.

Jack Hiscox, 1 game
2/10

Not good enough and delisted, clearly not up to AFL standard.

Forwards

Lance Franklin, 26 games, 81 goals, 6th B&F, All Australian, Runner up Coleman medal, Paul Kelley Players’ player of the season
9.5/10

Arguably a career best season, even though it wasn’t his most fruitful. Playing a pivotal role as essentially a forwards coach on the ground, he resolutely lead the youthful and inexperienced forward line, guiding them to another grand final berth. The reliance on the powerful forward is disheartening and with Tippett missing almost all of the 2nd half of the season with a knee injury, the forward line was utterly dysfunctional until Xavier Richards started.

Not only was he kicking bags of goals, but he was often pushing into the midfield, making critical interceptions, chase down tackles and absurdly good forward kicks from deep. If he could be cloned 28 times, you’d have the best ever AFL team, he can just do it all.

George Hewett, 24 games, 18 goals
7/10

George started his career impressively with his trademark “on my knees come tackle me hither” style quickly courting a ridiculous amount of scrutiny, likened to the disgraceful acts of Thomas, that toss from the Lions who debuted with 9 head high tackles (???!?!?!?!?!) and that Dogs player that shall remain unnamed for those disgraceful dives in the grand final. His pressure in the forward line was often an important component of keeping the ball locked in, and his ability to move into the midfield often relieved the pressure on the senior players.

Another pre-season in the gym will do him wonders and I fully expect him to kick on.

Ben McGlynn, 18 games, 24 goals
5/10

The much maligned forward-midfielder-forward finished off his final AFL season with another grand final performance that left many supporters scratching their head in wonder, if he truly “deserved” a grand final win. His form was abject throughout much of the season, with only goals keeping him in the side, often out pointed by the terrific and inexperienced rookie Tom Papley. His final 2 regular season rounds, especially his 5 goal haul against Richmond kept him in the team when it might have safer to stick with Towers.

Once again though, of the two small forwards, Papley shone brightest when it mattered most, banging the first 2 goals of the qualifying final. McGlynn played a decent supporting act, kicking 4 in the first 3 finals. Alas, it wasn’t to be, with milk cartons displaying his picture with “have you seen me” in bold, having gone missing in the grand final once again. While he was amongst the worst on ground in the game, he wasn’t anywhere near as bad as McVeigh, Rohan or Richards.

All criticism aside, he was a highly respected member of the team and loved by all supporters. The congratulatory speeches given by his peers at the clubs best and fairest were tear jerking affairs, describing the love and respect they had for the incredibly hard and brave player. It’s fair to say that he took more hits to the face during his career than Mundine has his entire life.

Tom Papley, 20 games, 29 goals
7.5/10

Before the season started, most supporters would have responded with “who” when asked about Tom Papley. Recruited as a rookie in the ’15 draft, he got his start in the first game of the season with Bambi still hamstrung, after twanging it to Africa and back against Fremantle in the finals. I can still hear the echoes of it exploding across the Nullarbor. However, that fast changed after the first game of the season, kicking 3 goals on debut, taking 5 marks and turning the ridiculously poor Collingwood defence inside out. Kicking 6 goals in his first 3 games, the sky looked the limits, but as players returned from injury (Rohan), he found himself back on the sidelines.

Returning in round 16, having missed 6 games, he kicked another 18 goals, including a career best 4 against Adelaide in the semi-final and leading the goal kicking for the Swans in the finals with 9. Impressively, he kicked 3 or more goals on 4 occasions and went at close to 66% accuracy. His forward pressure combined with McGlynn was oustanding, racking up 72 tackles for the season at 3.6 pg.

Upgraded to the senior list, expect him to play every game of the season and rapidly improve. He’s a beauty and a future 50-goal season player.

Gary Rohan, 18 games, 25 goals
5/10

If maligned could be applied to one player in particular, it’s Gary Rohan. Even though he suffered a freakishly bad leg break, he has pace to burn, great hands and an excellent set shot. He has almost all of the tools to mould into an extremely good forward, except for one – composure. As is often the case, he disappears when the heat from the oven is strong, and it’s always strongest in a grand final.

His senior return was excellent against Hawthorn, playing a match winning role and kicking 7 in his first 4 games. But then the goals dried up, a 4 goal effort against the Hawks aside, he went goalless in 5 of his next 8 games. He joined in on the spanking against Richmond, kicking 4 himself, but the false dawn kicked in.

He struggled to impact the GWS qualifying final game and ultimately hurt his knee going for a marking contest against the Crows, before returning the following week against Cats, with undoubtedly his  career best finals game, kicking 2 goals, 18 possessions and providing a mobile forward option.

His single goal in the grand final is the only thing that sets him apart from the worst on ground candidates, with McVeigh and Richards just edging him. There’s so much potential it’s ridiculous, but his inability to apply himself in pressure games in astonishing.

Xavier Richards, 10 games, 13 goals
haha/10

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

James Rose, 5 games, 2 goals
3/10

Rose cashed in on his ’15 debut and made a miniature pile of hay while the sun shone, but in ’16 he just wasn’t good enough when called on. He’s got skills and potential, but lacks the confidence to really apply himself physically in the contest, and lacks the physical strength to make that impact. No doubt he’ll have to hit the gym in the off season and maybe eat a few testosterone apples to stack on the weight.

Bambi, 0 games, 0 goals
0/10

Didn’t return from injury, which makes it possibly one of the longest hamstring-related injury absences from senior football to date. When Hero Lloyd did his, he missed nearly a year, but Bambi missed an entire season and two finals series. Comically talked up as a forward option to replace Richards for the grand final, perhaps it wouldn’t have been such a bad move to make in retrospective.

Ruck

Kurt Tippet, 17 games, 17 goals, 24.6 HO/pg, 2.5 TK/pg, 2.9 MK/pg
4/10

It’s hard to rate Tippett, since his first half of the season right up until his knee injury was excellent and he was clearly leading the clubs’ best and fairest count. He missed a massive chunk of the season and when he returned he was playing like he was at the start of the ’15 season, too heavy, too slow and just far too clumsy.

He kicked important goals in the preliminary final win against Cats, but was deplorable in the grand final loss and universally criticised for his performance, comprehensively out pointed by Naismith. Overall his season was a let down, with his stats across the board less than ’15, and some of the important ones way down even with a 5 game difference (-44 marks, -27 goals, +39 hit outs, -25 tackles, -26 frees for, -2 frees against, -4 brownlow votes, -31 contested possessions, -9 contested marks +a shit load more dropped marks, -22 marks inside 50).

He’s got a lot to work on in the off season if he’s going to return to his ’15 form, especially fitness.

Callum Sinclair, 16 games, 10 goals, 13.8 HO/pg, 3.0 TK/pg, 2.8 MK/pg
4.5/10

The gigs up for the pretend ruckman, traded to the Swans for a whole can of crushed tomato and a half eaten mars bar. At least that’s the overall value, because neither Sinclair or Jetta have done well, racing each other to the top of the worst trade list. Complaining in the pre-season of the extra work he had to do certainly didn’t win him any fans, neither did his constant cramping in 2nd halves of almost every game.

Recruited to play 2nd fiddle to Tippet, he was beaten by the unproven duo in Naismith and Nankervis. Until Naismith started, he was paired in a disastrous combination with Nankervis that directly coincided with the down trodden form of not only the midfield, but the majority of the team. Rounds 13 & 15 yielded a colossal 23 and 30 hit outs combined. Following up those outstanding performances, he partnered with Naismith in round 16 to produce a whopping 5 disposals and 8 hit outs, a truly atrocious performance in a big 40 point win.

Sam Naismith, 12 games, 3 goals, 23.0 HO/pg, 3.3 TK/pg, 2.1 MK/pg
7/10

The untried big man made an immediate impact in his round 16 return to the side. Tall, strong, lumbering and deft with touch, his hit outs were almost always to advantage and he gave the ailing Swans midfield first use of the ball, time and time again. He doesn’t rack up the disposals, but he certainly goes to work as a tackle machine. He laid 4 in his first game, then 7 and 5 against Carlton and Fremantle. His career best is an amazing 9 tackles against Geelong in the preliminary final, to go with his 4 disposals.

He’s certainly not a ruckman from the Cox mould, fast, strong and quick across the ground. He’s a lumbering tree of a man, who will never give up on a chase, puts in a serious work shift and gets down and dirty when he has to. He combined expertly with Nankervis in the Adelaide semi-final, both earning plaudits for their performances.

There’s a lot of improvement to come from the big man, but as a tap ruckman, there aren’t many that do it better.

Toby Nankervis, 7 games, 2 goals, 14.1 HO/pg, 5.2 TK/pg, 1.7 MK/pg
5/10

It’s unfortunate that the trier was eventually traded to Richmond after his final Swans game, an excellent performance against Adelaide. But he was always on the periphery of the team nonetheless and his opportunities were always limited. But with a solid run in the team from round 19 onwards, he proved that he was more than capable of mixing it with the best, filling in for Tippett when he was again injured in the finals.

Perhaps his career best performance was his impressive game against St Kilda. He kicked a goal and snagged 24 hit outs, combining well with Naismith in the thumping win, astonishingly from just 59% game time.

But alas, he’s moved on to pastures anew with an opportunity he would have been mad to pass up. There’s just no way that he was going to play 3rd or 4th fiddle at the Swans another season.

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