Sydney Swans defender Tom McCartin had a break out season in 2021, improving on a weekly basis following his move down back to play in the Swans’ defensive line for the first time in his career.
Playing in his fourth year in the AFL, the 21-year-old finished with a career high 13.5 disposals, 5 marks, 6.4 spoils, 2.5 intercept marks and 5.2 contested possessions on average across his 22 matches this season.
The youngster was also rewarded as the sole Sydney player to be voted in the AFL Players’ Association 22Under22 side, a line up that that boasts plenty of talent from some of the competition’s brightest young stars.
In another challenging season, where the side spent 11 weeks on the road, McCartin said staying positive with the group and progressing through to the finals capped up a “pretty good year” in reflection.
He played just his second finals game, having lost to GWS in his only finals appearance in 2018.
“It was pretty unique. We were obviously away for 11 weeks in a hub, so it was challenging but it was a pretty cool experience,” McCartin said.
“We were a pretty good group and we handled it really well and looked at it in a positive light the whole time in the hub and I think it was a really good experience for all of us.
“It was something that we did similar last year and won a few games, but we had 15 wins this year which was awesome and made the finals, but we obviously didn’t finish the way we wanted to but in reflection, it was a pretty good year.”
While there was no particular moment throughout the season that stood out for McCartin, it was the overall resilience, gutsy wins and trademark qualities that really stood out from the 2021 season.
“I think we had a lot of gutsy wins, with a few wins where we were behind at half time and our second half was really impressive,” McCartin said.
“There were those games where the pressure was really high, and that was something that our game was based around this year, and there were a lot of good wins this year.”
McCartin put pen to paper earlier this year, re-signing with the club for at least the next two years.
Having initially spent time as a forward in his early years at the club, McCartin become a key pillar in the Swans defence in 2021.
While there was plenty of improvements in his own game, McCartin was keen to continue to work alongside some of his more experienced team-mates who will continue to assist with his development over the coming years.
The 70-gamer was looking forward to continuing to build chemistry with co-captain Dane Rampe and 150+ gamers Harry Cunningham and Jake Lloyd.
“I was obviously down back this year for the first time and I learnt a lot this year which was great,” McCartin said.
“I was very lucky to have Benny Matthews as my back line coach and to be working alongside the likes of Dane Rampe, Harry Cunningham and Jake Lloyd.
“It was a good year that I learnt a lot. Ramps in particular has been massive for me, has taught me a lot this year and I’m very lucky to have him.
“The main thing [I wanted to get out of the year] was just consistency and also just building chemistry with the back six and hopefully that is something we can continue to work on in the coming years.”
13.5 disposals per game
6.4 spoils per game
2.5 intercept marks per game