Main content


What we learned from JLT1

Luke McManus  March 5, 2018 2:34 PM

JLT1 Highlights: Swans v Lions - March 3, 2018 The Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions go toe to toe in Moreton Bay during the JLT Community Series.
Lance Franklin looks in ominous form early.

Lance Franklin looks in ominous form early.

Just how much can we take away from the JLT Community Series?

Teams have different approaches when it comes to the pre-season competition, whether it's solely getting valuable minutes into their senior and best players or fielding kids to give them a taste for the top level with less than four weeks until the opening round of the regular season.

The Sydney Swans fielded a relatively strong squad in Saturday's opener against Brisbane with Jarrad McVeigh, Dan Hannebery, Heath Grundy, Zak Jones and Sam Naismith the only ones missing from last year's semi-final team.

The Swans accomplished both objectives, the likes of Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy and Isaac Heeney better for the run, while ruckman Darcy Cameron, forward-turned-defender Robbie Fox and draftee Ryley Stoddart all given the chance to impress.

As the dust settles, we explore five key points from Saturday's win, including the ominous form of a star forward and the strong showing from a number of Sydney’s young guns.

In Buddy good touch

Yes, the team looked in great touch as they cruised to the big win over the Lions, but it was the form of one man in particular that got the crowd at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex and those watching from home talking.

It hasn't taken long for Lance Franklin to find his groove.

The reigning Coleman medallist showed no signs of his interrupted pre-season to run out a full game and finish with a game-high four goals to go with his 15 disposals, four marks, two tackles and five forward entries.

It wasn't just his ability to hit the scoreboard. Franklin got up the ground, pressured well, hit the packs, tackled ferociously and put his skills to good use – other than kicking goals – including some bullocking work that paved the way for Tom Papley to goal in the opening term and a bullet-like pass from the boundary that found James Rose in the second.

If Saturday's performance is anything to go by, the 31-year-old will once again prove a headache for backmen league-wide in 2018.

Ankle injury to cause potential ruck-us?

The Swans' ruck depth was tested in Saturday's match when Callum Sinclair went down with an ankle injury early in the third quarter.

After a strong opening half, Sinclair's day ended prematurely after rolling his left ankle in a marking contest. The big man grasped his ankle and was in some discomfort before hobbling from the ground flanked by club trainers.

Already without Sam Naismith, the blow left Darcy Cameron to shoulder the bulk of the ruckwork alongside hybrid ruckman Dean Towers for the rest of the afternoon. It was a big task up against an in-form Stefan Martin, but the pair worked tirelessly, and Cameron received some valuable experience heading into his second season of AFL football.

The potential absence of Naismith and Sinclair does present some interesting questions for coach John Longmire with Cameron the only specialist ruckman available if both or any of the former can't get up for Friday's JLT2 clash with GWS.

Aliir Aliir was flagged as a possible option during the offseason but he too is being assessed by medical staff after injuring his ankle against Brisbane.

Both Aliir and Sinclair will learn the extent of their ankle injuries in the next 24 hours.

AFL 2018 JLT Community Series - Brisbane v Sydney
Callum Sinclair clutches his ankle during Saturday's clash against Brisbane.

Parker picks up where he left off.

Fresh from claiming his second Bob Skilton Medal, Luke Parker looks like taking his stellar 2017 form into the new season.

As his skipper Josh Kennedy went about his business (25 disposals, seven marks, four clearances), Parker starred at the coalface against the Lions, showing the same ferociousness and attack on the football we’ve become so accustomed to seeing from him over his seven-year career so far.

He finished with 21 touches, 10 of which were contested, four clearances, five tackles and added a classy goal to cap it all off.

Both Kennedy and Parker will be called upon to lead the midfield charge against the Giants’ on-ball division in JLT2 with Hannebery still working his way back from an interrupted offseason.

Was Robbie Foxing us?

Robbie Fox was recruited as a half forward and showed us exactly why in his first season of AFL football. His pressure and speed provided an asset in his three senior matches before injury curtailed his campaign.

With many promising talents trying to break into this often-stable senior Sydney Swans side, Fox found it tough to win back his place towards the end of last season, an uphill battle that wasn’t about to get any easier to climb in the lead up to the new season.

But will a move to defence be his ticket in?

Fox looked right at home in the back half on Saturday, providing the necessary run and drive from halfback as his counterparts Jake Lloyd, Callum Mills and Dane Rampe went about their business. He finished with 24 disposals (at 75% efficiency), six marks and five rebound 50s to be considered among the Swans’ best in the win.

AFL’s Media Michael Whiting went as far to say that Fox will see much more senior footy in 2018 and, going by Saturday’s showing, we’d have to wholeheartedly agree.

AFL 2018 JLT Community Series - Brisbane v Sydney
Robbie Foxin action on Saturday.

Stoddart‘s start.

Ryley Stoddart was the fresh face of the Swans’ team on Saturday but looked as assured and capable as anyone out there.

With Matthew Ling on the way back from injury and Tom McCartin named as an emergency, Stoddart was the first of the 2017 draft crop to be let out of the gates, and the young talent didn’t let his coaches down.

Blessed with a blistering turn of speed and a raking left boot, the 19-year-old put all these traits to the test against the Lions and passed with flying colours, enough to put his name well and truly in the mix for Friday’s clash with the Giants in Blacktown.

Alongside Stoddart, James Rose (three goals) and Ollie Florent (16 disposals, seven tackles) will also be hard to omit following their promising performances.