The Sydney Swans have been one of the AFL’s most successful clubs in recent times. Since breaking a 72 year premiership drought in 2005, they have only failed to play finals footy once, and have featured in three of the previous five Grand Finals. It will be a source of frustration for the club that they have only managed to win one of those three games, and were convincingly defeated in the other two. That frustration is a good indication of the standards set at the Swans, and one of the reasons for their success, which they hope to continue in 2017.
In a departure from normal practice, Sydney were not very active during trade week in 2016. They finally farewelled Tom Mitchell; after seemingly endless speculation, Mitchell inevitably found his way to Hawthorn at the very reasonable price (for the Hawks, that is) of draft pick 14. The Swans management clearly regard academy products Callum Mills and Isaac Heeney very highly, and unfortunately moving Mitchell on was completely necessary to retain their future stars under that pesky salary cap.
Sydney also sent Toby Nankervis – who had struggled for opportunities behind Tippett, Sinclair and Naismith – to Richmond for a third round draft pick. Aside from some astute pick swapping to move up in the draft, that was the extent of the Swans’ off-season moves. The job of avenging their GF defeat in 2016 will largely be left to the existing player group.
BYE: Round 11, with St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, Carlton and Melbourne
Predicted Best 22
B: NSmith – Aliir – Jones
HB: McVeigh – Grundy – Rampe
C: Lloyd – Kennedy – Mills
HF: Heeney – Franklin – KJack
F: Papley* – Tippett – Hewett
R: Naismith – Parker – Hannebery
I/C: Reid, Towers, Rohan*, Cunningham
* Both of these players are currently on the LTI list; players in contention for those spots include Robinson, Foote, Florent, Cameron, Sinclair and Newman. Jarrad McVeigh has also pinged a calf and will miss a couple of games at the start of the year.
Jake LLOYD (D/M), $460,200
At only 23 years of age, ‘Young Anakin’ is already a tale of persistence. Initially overlooked in the 2013 draft, he had to wait until pick 16 in the Rookie Draft to hear his name read out. After a couple of years of vest-affected mediocrity, Jake started to post some promising numbers in 2016, building nicely to finish the final 7 games of the year with an average of 99.4 ppg. He’s continued that form in the JLT, with 30 possies and 113 points in the last game against the Saints. Lloyd is that type of outside, uncontested-ball mid that I usually try to avoid, but given his DPP status this year he definitely deserves consideration as a potential breakout in your defence. 5.6% ownership.
Callum MILLS, $420,000
The foremost of Sydney’s “more mid-time” brigade in 2017, Mills has already established himself as a young gun. Mostly playing an unfamiliar role as a halfback flanker in his rookie year in 2016, Mills won the Rising Star award by showing poise and courage beyond his years. Certainly the club rates him – a five-year contract extension was justifiable reward. Supercoach-wise, Mills was incredibly consistent for a rookie, playing 20 games and averaging 77, but with only 5 scores below 70. Still only 19 years of age, this future beast has shown outstanding form in the JLT and is a popular pick at D3 or D4. 9.0% ownership.
Zak JONES, $307,000
The younger brother of esteemed Dees hardnut Nathan, Zak Jones is built from the same mould. A hard-running, hard-tackling defender, Zak has suddenly become SC-relevant after an outstanding JLT series, with scores of 114, 54 and 103. His first three years at the Swans have been vest-heavy, but I have to admit I’m still surprised at how many teams I’ve seen him this year. Jones is awkwardly priced but with Tommy Mitchell gone, he did spend a fair bit of time in the mids in the pre-season games – if that continues, he could be excellent value. 6.0% ownership.
Josh.P.KENNEDY, $617,100….Daniel HANNEBERY, $616,800….Luke PARKER, $608,900
In the interest of saving time and space, I’ve lumped the Big Three together. You all know what you’re going to get here – they’re all monsters, and you should be strongly considering all of them for spots in your final midfield. Parker had minor knee surgery in the off-season but don’t be fooled, the Brownlow runner-up is ready. Hanners has eased himself through the pre-season, and JPK is just JPK. Oh, and the “point-sharing” theory is a fallacy – don’t get sucked into thinking these guys aren’t elite just because they wear the same colours. 13.5, 11.1 and 6.5% ownership, respectively.
Nah, not really. If you’re in a draft league, Tippett might be useful as a later round pick. I’ve included Darcy Cameron in the Rookie write-up (see below).
Lance FRANKLIN, $514,600
There aren’t many full-forwards who are prepared to run all the way up to halfback if they feel like they’re not getting enough of the footy, but Buddy ain’t your typical full-forward. Franklin enters his 13th year in the AFL remaining one of the most feared and respected players in the league. Sure, he had his share of on- and off-field issues in 2015, but those seemed to be resolved now, and he’s coming off a very consistent 12 months of footy. The days of the 13-goal bags may be over, but Buddy remains extremely SC-relevant, particularly in a dry year for forwards. 18.4% ownership.
Isaac HEENEY, $433,400
Don’t forget Heenz! Glandular fever has knocked the young’un for a loop, and he’ll miss the start of the season. But before that, the Maitland Man-child was absolutely murdering his pre-season. When he gets back on the field he will be right in the middle of it. Future club captain, future gun – keep an eye on him for your trades around early May. 7.6% of coaches aren’t paying attention at the moment.
Oliver FLORENT (M/F), $166,800
Despite being taken at pick 11, I really didn’t think we’d see much of Florent this year. He’s jet-quick and very savvy around goals, but still lightly built and may take some time to adjust to the rigours of the senior game. However, with Heeney and Papley out of action and a solid JLT series behind him, it seems Ollie might be in the mix for round 1. DPP status is handy too – check the team sheets this week. 8.6% ownership.
Darcy CAMERON (R/F), $117,300
Everyone loves a mature age rookie, and Darcy Cameron fits the bill. Finally taken at pick 58 by the Swans – at his fourth attempt – Cameron is a 21 year old, 201cm lump who is capable of playing equally well in the ruck or as a tall forward, kicking 36 goals in the WAFL in 2016. With injury clouds over Sinclair and Naismith, he has been my R3 since December. Only played limited minutes in the final JLT hit-out against St Kilda though, so who knows what Horse has in mind for him. Extremely relevant – if named. 17.0% ownership.
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