Home Rugby Did a brutal grand ultimate loss wreck the Sydney Swans? A dive into their 2023 woes

Did a brutal grand ultimate loss wreck the Sydney Swans? A dive into their 2023 woes

Did a brutal grand ultimate loss wreck the Sydney Swans? A dive into their 2023 woes


Because the 2022 commerce interval started, the Swans licked their wounds.

They’d simply copped an 81 level belting by a slick group of surely-almost-retired gamers from Geelong. The commerce interval drags on, solely lasting 9 days however for Swans supporters every morning rings with the identical information. Wait, we aren’t getting anyone? Aaron Francis arrives, choose 6 in 2015 however just lately unfavoured by Essendon.

The Swans have a behavior of turning cast-offs and neglected youths into superstars, however is that what they wanted after wanting nearly utterly uncompetitive within the Grand Last?

This is similar commerce interval that noticed Brodie Grundy head to the Demons, Jack Bowes transfer to the premiers, and Collingwood, who now look an unstoppable juggernaut heading into the top of the season, choose up Tom Mitchell, Bobby Hill and Dan McStay.

The groups that featured on the finish of September final yr are all jostling on the apex of the AFL ladder come mid-July whereas the Swans are wanting round them in lonely fifteenth place, with solely the inexperienced Hawks, rejuvenating Kangaroos, and the unmentionable Eagles under them. What occurred?

Lance Franklin of the Swans.

(Photograph by Dylan Burns/AFL Images through Getty Photos)

Statistically, it’s straightforward to have a look at the place the Swans have fallen off this yr. Final season their model of play was corresponding to the Hawks throughout their well-known ‘threepeat’ of 2013-15, with exact kicks across the floor discovering uncontested marks and grinding the opposition down with their accuracy. In 2022 they rated 2nd total for kicks and third for marks. Evaluate that to 2023, the place they fee ninth and a lowly 14th respectively.

Their gameplan has clearly modified over the summer time, with a extra run-and-gun method being carried out down the centre of the bottom to enrich the younger, speedy cohort who led them so nicely via final yr’s finals. The important thing distinction this season is whereas this tactic is leading to inside 50’s, the place they’re ranked 4th, it’s not translating to scores.

One a part of this drawback, along with his hulking body and ageing legs, is Buddy Franklin.

A residing legend of the sport, Franklin is starting to have a unfavorable impact on the Swans ahead line. The place 4 years in the past he would draw the 2 finest defenders on the opposing staff, mark the ball from 45 out and kick a curling left footer that will momentarily defy physics to fit via, he’s now more and more unable to take contested marks (averaging 1.6 a recreation), and lacking objectives that Logan Macdonald or Joel Amartey could be kicking.

It’s no assist that as a commanding presence, each bodily and mentally, the younger Bloods nonetheless see him as the person they must kick to.

Not all of this has been right down to alternative although. Buddy has needed to play extra early season video games than John Longmire could have favored with the accidents to Macdonald and Amartey. His ultimate yr within the AFL was all the time going to be managed, it simply hasn’t been on the Swans phrases.

Tom McCartin and Paddy McCartin of the Swans look dejected.

(Photograph by Mark Kolbe/AFL Images/through Getty Photos)

However Buddy’s not the most important problem. The Swans are missing large our bodies in and across the stoppages and ruckmen Tom Hickey and Peter Ladhams aren’t tapping the ball huge sufficient to help the likes of Errol Gulden and Chad Warner, who whereas improbable gamers in their very own proper, aren’t the Josh Kennedy varieties who can break via packs with brute.

Whereas ranked tenth for contested possessions, the Swans are shedding it when the momentum swings the opposite manner. Ranked useless final for intercept marks and fifteenth for defensive 1v1’s, it’s the backline which are struggling essentially the most.

Opposition kicks are flying via from stoppages and the defensive position have little to no say within the matter. You solely have to have a look at the metric that claims the Swans have the third most tackles in 2023. Excessive strain, sure, however that simply means they don’t have their fingers on the ball sufficient.

In fact accidents have cruelled their season. Nearly each senior participant has had a stint on the sidelines and when it’s not a comfortable tissue harm or a torn hamstring, Toby Nankervis’ shoulder has an appointment together with your head. This may occur to a staff stuffed with younger our bodies, and possibly this staff simply wasn’t bodily prepared but?

After final yr capitalising on a season when many groups underperformed, maybe they’re displaying us now the place they’re actually at.

The Swans must treatment this shortly within the offseason. Finals are out of the query now and the competitors are getting brutally good. Collingwood and Port Adelaide look to be on the verge of building dynastic groups, whereas Essendon, St Kilda, Adelaide and GWS are displaying huge enchancment.

And that’s, in fact, to not even point out Geelong, Melbourne and Brisbane, who’re straddling their open premiership window with their legs dangling.

Buddy will depart on the finish of the season and whereas it’ll be a blow to him that he received’t win a premiership within the crimson and white, Sydney’s ahead line will flourish with Macdonald, Amartey and Maclean because the focal factors. Dropping Jordan Dawson and George Hewett over the previous few seasons, two big-bodied inside mids, have confirmed to be essential outs. Replacements for these can be higher late than by no means, and commerce rumours round gamers akin to Harry Himmelberg, Aaron Naughton and Tim English are constructive, however Sydney must look elsewhere too.

It’s not unfathomable to see the Swans pushing late into finals subsequent yr, supplied they get the commerce season good. One advantage of a low desk end this yr would be the early draft picks they earn, which have to be utilized in swaps for confirmed, powerful ball winners.

Bulking out the present core of the younger group must be a precedence too, gamers like Nick Blakey, Callum Mills, Errol Gulden and Corey Warner want to come back again in March subsequent yr having undergone the Isaac Heeney remedy, able to out-muscle opponents within the centre of the bottom.

All isn’t misplaced! Commentators across the nation appear to suppose that the Grand Last demolition of 2022 could nicely show to be AFL’s final gasp in NSW. Groups not often choose themselves up instantly after a drubbing like that, however the Swans have proven sufficient instances over sufficient video games this yr that they’re not way back to fifteenth place would counsel.

Now, if solely they might kick straight…



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