Swans coaching shake-up bears no similarities to Fremantle's

The Sydney Swans kicked off their 2018 AFL Premiership campaign in gusto, lead brilliantly from the front by superstar Lance Franklin.

Eight goals for the game, five in the first half, set the Swans well on their way to a 29-point victory, battling a dogged Eagles outfit that did their best to win their first match at their brand new home ground.

Isaac Heeney, Luke Parker and Jake Lloyd set the tone for the Swans, while Callum Sinclair and Dean Towers battled well in the ruck.

With a battered and beaten Owen Wilson shrinking in the rear-view mirror and no repeat of the Swans awful 2017 start, the Swans can bask in the glow of their hard fought victory.

More importantly, with three crucial players missing and barely a forward line to speak of, to be lead so brilliantly by Franklin is not only a testament to the player, but speaks volumes for the coaching staff.


When highly respected and experienced Swans coaches Stephen Taubert, Josh Francou, Stuart Dew and Henry Playfair moved on at the end of last season, there certainly was a degree of concern ahead of 2018.

But astute recruiting, not just through the draft - as the Swans are well known and regarded for - but for the exceptional captures of Steve Johnson and Dean Cox, as well as the promotion of Rhyce Shaw to the senior squad, quashed those fears.

Unlike Fremantle's shocking start to 2016, sinking without a trace having the minor premiership the season before, the Swans have kicked off their 2018 campaign in style.

Longmire, never one to blame others for his panels' mistakes, and always delegating to those he should, may have learned from Ross Lyon's stark admission at the close of the 2016 season.

"It's too late by then. You can't recover from a poor summer. A few things had gone wrong. I did delegate and it was the right thing to do, but because I did delegate so much I wanted to be respectful to my team and I didn't intervene.

"We were over-coaching, talking too long and training lost its intensity. I stepped back and wasn't talking enough about effort and fitness as much and for the players it was confusing."

While the Swans 2017 campaign certainly shared similarities with the Dockers dismal 2016 start, the coaching panel never lost faith, even after the Round 6 Carlton debacle.

They never discussed rebuild, never talked finals, future premierships, lamented issues in training and game plan development during the pre-season - they owned their problem.

What followed was one of the most remarkable seasons by any football club in the history of the AFL, setting a number of regular season and finals records along the way.

When the curtains fell in 2017, it wasn't to abject failure or bitter disappointment, it was to pride and belief in the team.

Fitness of key players goes a long way in the modern game, especially your best players, play makers and game breakers, because without those players fit, the next tier players often struggle.

The Swans have once again adapted to the minor changes in the game and Richmonds' premiership success.

It's unlikely that we'll see repeats of Round 3 vs Collingwood last season, with the players completely oblivious to mid-week rule changes.

In years past, stifling defensive play and ability to absorb pressure has been the Swans bread-and-butter, but on Sunday night, we witnessed a more aggressive and offensive team take the points.

Perhaps its the evolution of the game, fresh injection of new ideas, or having your best players fit and available, or a combination of all three.

Whatever it is, the Swans won't be repeating Fremantle's shocking start to 2016.


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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia https://theswansblog.com

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