Swans captain Josh Kennedy has conceded that the Swans didn't do enough to adequately protect their young teammate, who was targeted by Carlton in their round 6 clash.
Admitting that he wasn't aware of what was happening during the game, Kennedy said that the Swans' inability to "fly the flag" was disappointing and out of character.
Still yet to lead the Swans to victory in 2017 since taking the captaincy from Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack last year, Kennedy was remorseful of the Swans lack of action.
"I think we need to look after each other," said Kennedy.
"That criticism is not something we want to hear. It's not something we stand for, but it's probably valid. Obviously things have to change."
Kennedy said that the Swans had withstood similar assaults upon Dan Hannebery and Luke Parker.
"We've tried to be harder and fiercer in the contest and we've managed to push through and win. This time the comments about us were warranted."
The 2014 and 2016 grand finals instantly come to mind where the flag hasn't been flown.
Kennedy was aware of the criticism levelled at the Swans, in particular as Hannebery and Parker watched on as the Blues laid into Mills, pointed out by Gary Lyon on Channel 7's Footy Classified.
"We need to stick together," said Kennedy.
"We're learning a lot about ourselves and the reality is the amount of criticism we're receiving is nothing compared with the criticism we put on ourselves. Nothing you say to me is anything I'm not saying to myself."
"It does kind of rest on my shoulders," said Kennedy.
"I'm not backing away from that, but I'm not denying it's an incredible test at the moment. I'm certainly going to find out a lot more about myself.
"Whether or not I was captain I'd still be feeling a huge responsibility to how the team's performing anyway, but obviously there's a lot more pressure. And I do relish the challenge."
While Kennedy described his leadership style as evolving, he emphasised his desired to lead by example and maintain his high standards, lifting those around him.
"First and foremost, you lead by example and when you're doing that you need to demand it from others and help them reach their potential. It's about building better relationships and becoming more vocal."
Let's hope the next time the boys are getting laid into, the rest of the team will fly the flag. Nothing wrong with a few dozen fines.
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