Grand final loss still haunts Swans
Photo Source: AAP
The 2014 AFL grand final is burned into the minds of every Sydney player who took part, even though many would like to forget the loss.
The Swans find themselves in a somewhat similar position to 2014, when they were listed as favourites to defeat Hawthorn throughout grand-final week.
John Longmire's side were minor premiers and boasted imposing form and immense confidence ahead of that grand final, which capped Lance Franklin's first season at the club.
But the Swans were humiliated at the MCG, suffering a 63-point loss.
"It was a little while ago but there's definitely an element that sits in your stomach and still frustrates you," Dan Hannebery said.
Hannebery was one of many Swans to have their colours lowered two years ago but the gifted on-baller at least had a 2012 premiership medallion to help console himself with.
Jake Lloyd wasn't so lucky.
"It still hurts a lot ... it was obviously heartbreaking," Lloyd said.
"There's going to be a lot of players that played in 2014 running out on Saturday. I'm sure it will be in the back of all their minds. Nobody wants a repeat of what happened."
Unpicking the lessons that needed to be learned from 2014, when the Swans produced one of their worst games of the season at the worst possible time, is difficult.
There is no single reason why they were outclassed so clinically but many players believe the sense of occasion contributed and they were guilty of getting carried away in grand-final week.
"We probably soaked it up a little bit too much and just took it for granted and thought that the Hawks were going to hand it to us," Luke Parker reflected.
"I'm sure it will be a different mindset (against Western Bulldogs)."
Longmire was philosophical when asked about the prospect of redemption, noting almost half the team had changed in the ensuing two years.
"You're a product of your experiences - good, bad or otherwise ... what's relevant is what happens this week," Longmire said.
But even newcomers Xavier Richards and Zak Jones have clear memories of the 2014 decider. It was Richards' first time setting foot on the hallowed MCG turf, while it was the first grand final Jones watched from the stands.
Hannebery suggested it was up to the club's leaders to help their inexperienced teammates negotiate the week ahead.
"We've got a completely different group now, more younger players and a lot who are in their first finals series," he said.
"It's just about making sure they remain calm and continue to train and play the same way."
Meanwhile, injured trio Jarrad McVeigh, Aliir Aliir and Callum Mills will need to train well on Wednesday to convince Longmire they should be picked for the grand final.
Mills is considered the most likely of the three to be passed fit.
"He'll train fully we expect on Wednesday. Provided he gets through that he'll be available for selection," football manager Tom Harley told the club website on Tuesday.
SYDNEY SWANS RETURNING TO AFL GRAND FINAL AFTER FEATURING IN 2014 LOSS: Lance Franklin, Heath Grundy, Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack, Josh Kennedy Jake Lloyd, Ben McGlynn, Jarrad McVeigh, Luke Parker, Dane Rampe, Gary Rohan, Nick Smith, Kurt Tippett.