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2016 season review

Adam Curley  October 4, 2016 3:53 PM

Luke Parker was once again one of the key midfielders for the Swans in 2016.

Luke Parker was once again one of the key midfielders for the Swans in 2016.

In a nutshell
The Swans won 17 regular season games to claim the minor premiership, rebounded from a disappointing loss to Greater Western Sydney, and made it to another Grand Final, before falling short in a classic against the Western Bulldogs. 

What we said in the pre-season 
NAB AFL Rising Star winner Callum Mills made good on our pre-season prediction, but the Swans soared above the predicted seventh-placed finish. Sam Reid's no show and the demise of Ted Richards were hard to predict, as were breakout seasons from Aliir Aliir, Tom Papley and George Hewett. 

What worked
Longmire's transition plan couldn't have gone any better for the club after the loss of Adam Goodes, Rhyce Shaw, Mike Pyke, Lewis Jetta and Craig Bird. With Mills, Aliir, Papley and Hewett all-becoming important players after making their debut, the loss of almost 1000 games of experience became a distant memory. 

What failed?
Sam Reid's rehabilitation was the only sour note – football-wise – for the Swans in a fantastic season. He looked like being on the verge of a comeback several times, and even during the finals, teased the club by looking powerful on the track. 

Overall rating
A
. Longmire did a brilliant job to get his side into another Grand Final, and they were right in the hunt midway through the last term, before being overrun by the Bulldogs. A highly successful year, but the way it ended will no doubt burn over summer.

The coach
The Swans are in safe hands with John Longmire signed until the end of the 2020 season. The 2012 premiership coach blooded seven debutants this year and his faith in youngsters Aliir, Papley and Hewett never waivered. His mid-season resting of Isaac Heeney was a masterstroke. 

The leaders 
Led by co-captains Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack, the leaders were outstanding in 2016. Whether it was Heath Grundy and Dane Rampe in defence, Lance Franklin up forward, or Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery in the midfield, the Swans are blessed to have such quality experience at their disposal.

MVP
Luke Parker: the star midfielder racked up a career-high 699 disposals and added 25 goals in a brilliant season, and finished runner-up in the Brownlow Bedal. 

Surprise packet
Tom Papley: drafted to the rookie-list at the end of last season, the small forward debuted in round one, and finished with 29 goals from 20 games. 

Get excited
Aliir Aliir: after two years in the NEAFL the key defender was brilliant in the second half of the season, his intercept marking and willingness to take the game is super impressive. Missing the Grand Final with a knee injury was a heartbreaking story. 

Disappointment
Sam Reid: tore his hamstring in last year's losing semi-final against Fremantle and the injury woes followed him in 2016, with hamstring, calf and Achilles problems limiting the gun swingman to just three games in the NEAFL.

Best win
Round nine: Hawthorn 7.13 (55) def by Sydney Swans 10.9 (69)

Coming off a terrible loss to Richmond after the siren the week before, the Swans returned to the MCG to face their old rivals, and led by speedster Gary Rohan who kicked three goals in his first game for the year, the visitors won by 14 points in a thriller. 

Low point
After being arrested and charged with drug possession in July after being stopped by police outside an eastern suburbs nightspot, defender Michael Talia, who was on the long-term injury list, was suspended by the club for a month. 

The big questions

  • Can they keep Tom Mitchell?
  • Will Sam Reid ever return to the field?
  • Can Alex Johnson play some footy in 2017?

Season in a song

No Second prize, by Jimmy Barnes

Premiership window

 

What we say: it's never shut at the Swans is it? 

Who's done?
Retirements: Ted Richards
Delistings: Nil
Unsigned free agents: Nil 

How should they approach trade and draft period?
If there's a quality tall defender available to lend support to Aliir, Dane Rampe, and veteran Heath Grundy, the Swans should look there, otherwise, concentrate on adding depth through the draft. 

Early call for 2017
More of the same. The Swans have won 16+ games in each of the last five seasons, and with that consistency, the flag is always in play. A second Grand Final defeat in three years will sting.