Ted Richards takes a mark over Franklin. Will we see the same thing on Saturday?
Photo: Getty Images
If this Saturday's grand final was a dog fight, it'd be a case of the purebreds taking on the mutts. The brown and gold kennel is packed with pedigree. Hawthorn's list contains no less than 10 first-round draft picks: players who have stood out from the pack since childhood, and been confidently groomed for success.
The red and white kennel, on the other hand, is a little like the Lost Dogs' Home. Sydney have won many plaudits for their cross-breeding program in recent years. Several of their best players come from other AFL clubs who were, let's just say, not that keen to keep them. But just look at what a good home can do.
Here are six recycled Swans who have made their mark in Sydney.
6. Martin Mattner
Marty Mattner was born and raised in South Australia – but he never quite felt at home with the Crows. Elevated from Adelaide's rookie list in 2002, he took four years to become a regular selection, but never quite got a regular position to match. Traded to Sydney in 2007, he credits his dramatic improvement to a getting a permanent spot in the backline. "Having a simple game-plan has really helped my game," he recently told The Advertiser. The rebounding defender has missed only one match in his time at the Swans, and could well stand Jack Gunston this Saturday. He says that there's no secret to Sydney's success at recycling: "The main reason is the club targets a position it needs to fill and then gives that certain player the greatest opportunity it can to succeed."
5. Ben McGlynn
If you're one of those men who hopes that size doesn't matter, take comfort in Ben McGlynn. At just 174cm, the former Hawk is very small for a footballer, and would probably admit that he's not a huge natural talent. What McGlynn does have, however, is speed. After he was ignored in the 2006 draft, that speed eventually got him on Hawthorn's rookie list – and it netted him 44 games over the following four years. But it's at Sydney that the small-forward-cum-tagger has really found his feet. He led the club's goal kicking for most of 2011, and even found a place in the Australian side that played Ireland. In a blow for the Swans, McGlynn has been ruled out of Saturday's Grand Final after injuring his hamstring against the Crows.
4. Rhyce Shaw
The Shaws have always played at Collingwood – but that doesn't mean that they should. The son of Ray, brother of Heath and nephew of Tony, Rhyce was a first-round father-son pick in 1999, and a member of the Magpies' grand final side in 2003. That wasn't a memory to treasure, however. Some fans still haven't forgiven the speedy, risk-taking defender for slipping over when the game was in the balance, and handing Brisbane an easy goal. The next few years were marred by a knee injury, and then suspension for an off-field slip-up in 2008. But Shaw's move to Sydney later that year clearly revitalised him. The one-time wild child is now a member of the leadership group, and a two-time runner-up in the club's best and fairest. Sydney will look to him to provide his customary dash off half-back.
3. Shane Mumford
The story of Shane Mumford provides some hope for the rest of us. At the age of 21, the Sydney ruckman was nowhere near AFL stardom. He was instead working as a boiler-maker – one who lived in Bunyip, weighed 130kg and once ate 20 sausages in a single sitting. Then one day "something finally clicked in my head", the man known as "Big Mummy" recently told The Age. By changing his diet and ditching the booze, Mumford managed to shed 20kg and earn a rookie spot at then-premiers, Geelong. The club would have liked to keep him at the end of 2009 but Mumford was lured north by Sydney's offer of a substantial pay rise and he's been repaying their faith ever since. A strong, bullocking ruckman who can play forward, he should prove a handful for David Hale and Jarryd Roughead.
2. Ted Richards
Between 2002, when he was drafted by Essendon, and 2005, when he left for Sydney, Ted Richards never played more than seven senior games in a row. "His confidence was shot," Adam Goodes recently recalled of the time his new teammate arrived at the club. "It was almost like he was waiting to get tapped on the shoulder to get dropped because of his form, because that's what always happened at Essendon." Fortunately, that tap was a long time in coming. At age 29, the reliable, mobile defender is enjoying the best form of his career. Recently named an All Australian, "Super Ted" kept Lance Franklin goalless in round five and no doubt hopes to do the same on Saturday.
1. Josh Kennedy
While Josh Kennedy is built like a rugby player, there was never any doubt that he'd play AFL. With Hawthorn's first premiership coach for a grandpa, and a four-time flag winner for a dad, the burly midfielder naturally started his career wearing the brown and gold stripes. But he didn't get to wear them as often as he liked. With the likes Lewis, Hodge and Sewell, the Hawks already had plenty of slowish, inside players, and the son of a gun struggled to get on the ground. At the end of 2009, Kennedy wisely requested a trade and in the Swans' congested, contested game style, he's found a team that's a perfect fit. Third in the Swans' 2009 best and fairest, and a near-certainty to win it this year, Kennedy is one of the AFL's very best midfielders, and far and away Hawthorn's biggest headache.
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