Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack; history repeats itself

Fresh off the Swans 10-point loss to the Crows at the SCG on Friday night, Longmire announced that Dan Hannebery would miss the Cats game in round six with a groin injury. It isn’t the first injury he’s dealt with this season and its unlikely to be his last.

Having overcome on-going calf injuries during the pre-season, Hannebery made his return to the side in round 2. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire, at times struggling for pace and endurance, hall marks of his game. Last weekend against the Crows, he struggled to make an impact with his pressure was way down and he finished the match with just 18 disposals.

While he won the most possessions out of his midfield quartet to half-time (8), he struggled to make any meaningful impact on the game. His averages have been well down this season, because of fitness and injury issues, but his game against the Crows was easily his worst for several seasons.

We speculated in our player ratings after the match that he looked unfit and injured, we didn’t know if he really was. Longmire’s announcement reaffirmed our point of view, that essentially, he should not have been playing. His performances have been criticised this season, certainly with pre-mature speculation attached to some of the comments on social media.

Perhaps some of the criticism after his first two matches was warranted, certainly when you consider his career and his lofty standards and averages. We’ve criticised his performances in the past, but we’ve never criticised him as a person. It’s not what we stand for and we certainly don’t encourage it, but each to their own really. What we do want, as do most other Swans fans, is for a fit and firing Dan Hannebery to be playing.

Which unfortunately forces us to compare his management and fitness this year to Kieren Jack’s last year. The circumstances are different, there’s no great injury crisis this year that’s stricken the midfield, but one can’t help but look at the parallel and draw criticism.

Kieren Jack played for five weeks with a serious hip injury. He was significantly hampered by it, he looked unfit and could not run. Fox Footy was baying for his head, newspapers were saying he should have retired, and fans repeated the same muck and nonsense on social media and fan forums. In the end, he had to take time off to heal, and when he came back he was as good as he ever was.

Hannebery’s start to the season is similar in many aspects. Jack suffered a hip injury on the eve of the season, while Hannebery battled injuries throughout the pre-season. They’ve both played when they haven’t been fully fit. Both of their performances were far below the standards they have set for themselves; looking unfit and providing little to the team.

Hannebery broke down before Kieren Jack did, but it was after round 6 that Jack was dropped. One must wonder why Hannebery was played at all, given his performances and lack of fitness. The entire midfield group has suffered without his selfless play and outside ability. We cannot lump the Crows loss on him - that would be grossly unfair - but we can criticise his performances, especially when they’re well short of his own standards.

The club haven’t said how long he’ll be out for, or how serious the injury is. Given it’s a groin injury, we shouldn’t expect him back in the senior team before round 10. Throughout Dans’ career, he has worked and battled through numerous injuries and problems.

The Swans need him back out there, we as fans need him back out there. He’s a barometer in the side and makes the midfield tick. Opposition teams have exploited the Swans midfield without him there, feeding and moving the ball. He is as critical to our structure in the midfield, as Sam Reid is to our forward line.

A fit and firing Dan Hannebery is what we need, not a hobbled one. We thought the Swans learned their lessons last season. So why is it that history repeats itself.

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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 http://theswansblog.com

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