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Swans flying under the radar

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 7:00 AM
Source: SportsFan
Author: Ben Hocking

It may be a result of their soft start to the season, or the fact that they are away from the glare of the football media in Sydney, but the Swans are somehow managing to fly under the radar this year.

Talk of the potential for last year's premiers to go back to back has been muted, while the likes of Hawthorn, Geelong, Collingwood, Fremantle and West Coast continue to get hyped up as contenders to win the flag this year.

This is despite the fact that the Swans seem to have improved significantly from last year and still have significant improvement to come.

Part of the reason they have been able to escape attention so far has been the opening two rounds against expansion teams GWS and Gold Coast, where the premiers did little more than was necessary to get the four points. But last weekend's performance against North Melbourne provided a clearer picture of what they are capable of doing against good sides.

When challenged, the Swans piled on 11 goals to one in the third quarter in Hobart, running in numbers and turning up the pressure whenever the Kangaroos had the ball to ensure a turnover.

Part of this improvement has come through the continuing development of players like Daniel Hannebery and Kieren Jack. One of the big improvers this year has been Luke Parker, who has stepped into the midfield and really started to dominate, winning 27 possessions on the weekend.

Parker's transition to the next level has allowed coach John Longmire to use Jude Bolton in a forward role this year, which the veteran has attacked with customary hardness. Bolton managed four goals against North Melbourne and leads the goalkicking for the Swans with seven, along with another midfielder accustomed to spending time forward, Jarrad McVeigh.

Perhaps most daunting is the fact that there is still a lot of improvement to come. Lewis Jetta, one of the most important players to Sydney's structure in the early part of last season, is still yet to hit his straps. When he returns to form he will give the Swans some serious pace.

Also missing from the Swans' impressive win over the Kangaroos was rebounding defender Rhyce Shaw, who adds even more pace, as will forward Gary Rohan when he eventually returns to the side from a long absence.

That is to say nothing of what the Swans will be able to achieve once off-season signing Kurt Tippett is allowed to play in the second half of the year. So far this year the Swans have been relying on their resting midfielders to kick the lion's share of their goals, as evidenced by the fact Bolton and McVeigh lead the goalkicking. Sam Reid has provided a target but is yet to start dominating defenders or making teams pay on the scoreboard.

Tippett will have no such problems and his delayed start to the season will only make him hungrier. Add to that the fact that the former Adelaide Crow will take the best defender, which will allow Reid more of an opportunity to flourish, and the Swans look much more menacing than last season.

A win against the unbeaten Cats on Friday night should be enough to put them back on everyone's radar.

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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of SportsFan.


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