Sydney Swans 2012 Season Preview

INS: Tony Armstrong (Adelaide), Mitch Morton (Richmond), Tom Walsh (St Kilda), Alex Brown (national draft), Jordan Lockyer (national draft), Tom Mitchell (father-son)

OUTS: Daniel Bradshaw (retired), Craig Bolton (retired), Tadhg Kennelly (retired), Lewis Johnston (Adelaide), Paul Bevan (delisted), Daniel Currie (delisted), Byron Sumner (delisted)

YEAR IN REVIEW: The Swans’ succession plan was a resounding success, with Paul Roos’ long-time assistant John Longmire completing a smooth transition into the top job. Fourteen wins – including an elimination final victory against St Kilda in Melbourne – proving that they’re no easy-beats. Despite the early retirements of Daniel Bradshaw and Craig Bolton, the Swans were as honest as ever. Ruckman Shane Mumford and clearance king Josh Kennedy backed up their breakout 2010 seasons, veterans Adam Goodes and Ryan O’Keefe returned to their best and young forward Sam Reid showed raw talent.

GAME BREAKER: If Gary Rohan can back up his blistering 2011 form, he will become a weapon for the Swans this year. His pace and willingness to carry the ball mean he is capable of breaking the game open at any moment.

RISING STAR: Luke Parker just lives for the contested situations and has a happy knack of kicking goals. The 19-year old is being groomed as a replacement for Jude Bolton, but his NAB Cup form suggests he’s ready to make an impact in 2012.

KEY ARRIVAL: The Swans’ need for some attacking polish makes recruit Mitch Morton a ready-made contributor. Morton floated in and out of games during his seven seasons at Richmond, so hopefully another change will be the making of the 25-year-old, who began his career out west with the Eagles.

COACH FACTOR: John Longmire put a modern spin on the Roos-era game plan by introducing his version of the defensive press, which made the task of playing against the Swans even more difficult. Not surprisingly, the Swans hierarchy had little hesitation in extending Longmire’s contract until the end of 2014.

STATS THAT MATTER: Sydney laid 79 tackles per game last year – six more than any other side. Almost 48 per cent of their possessions were contested, representing another AFL benchmark. On the flip side, they finished last and second-last in the comp for uncontested possessions and total disposals.

THE VERDICT: 6th. The Swans have played finals football eight of the past nine years and, on the back of a strong NAB Cup campaign, look well-placed to achieve that again. Their only down fall is their inability to beat the top four sides in the competition, and improvement must come from the next generation of Swans. They also must develop a far more potent attack, spread over mulitiple goalkickers. Last year the Swans were 11th for scoring, with only three players kicking more than 20 goals.

BEST 22

B: Malceski Roberts-Thomson Grundy

HB: Shaw Richards Mattner

C: Hannebery Kennedy McVeigh

HF: Rohan Goodes O’Keefe

F: Morton Reid McGlynn

Foll: Mumford Jack Bolton

I/C: Jetta, Parker, Smith

SUB: Dennis-Lane

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