AFL recruiters around the country are hitting the road and covering thousands of kilometres over the next five days as they wrap up final in-person interviews with future talent, ahead of the start of the NAB AFL Draft on Wednesday November 24th.

One of the many hitting the bitumen is experienced Sydney Swans General Manager of List Strategy and Recruitment Kinnear Beatson, who is going into his 15th year with the club and knows a thing or two about picking up talent to fill the Swans list.

When asked what kind of players he is looking at in the 2021 Draft, Beatson summed it up simply with “good ones!”.

Pressed on what areas the club would be focusing their attention on in this year’s Draft, Beatson revealed the club would be looking to strengthen its midfield.

“Given we traded for a young ruckman in Peter Ladhams, who we hope has an eight-to-ten-year career with us, it would have to be an extremely talented young ruckman for us to look at one in the Draft," Beatson said.

"There is one, but all the intelligence that we’ve had so far is telling us that he won’t be there at our first pick so we’re not spending too much time on him."

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Beatson said drafting a young midfielder was of particular interest to the club after the departures of Jordan Dawson and George Hewett. 

"We’ll also look at some running players coming out of defence, and you’ve always got an eye on key position players going forward. It’s not a bad mix in this year’s draft, but our focus will be more on the midfield running halfback types if they’re there.”

Beatson has steered the Swans recruiting since 2006, but even with more than a decade of experience he admits the club can never be too prepared for the types of scenarios that arise on the night.

“We’ll go in with the players ranked in groups, and we’re not too far off finalising the list," Beatson said.

"In trading for Peter Ladhams our pick went back from 12 to 16, and then our next is 31 and 39. We also have pick 70 at the back end of the Draft, but that may push in to about 57 by the time bids for players, for father and son, or Next Generation Academy players have been matched.

"The first pick looks after itself, it will be the best ranked player that we’ve got on our list.  There’s no particular type of player, and you’ve got to be a bit careful doing that because you can bypass a champion if you’ve got your mind set on taking a small forward or something like that. In that sense, the method for the draft is fraught with danger, especially with your early picks.”

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Following the initial pick, Beatson says the night unfolds like a chess game, as the recruiting team work to ‘read the play’ of other clubs.

“It’s a combination of looking at that talent list as well as trying to read the flow of the draft," Beatson said.

"At 31 or 39 we might have five or six players there, so we will refer to our intel that we’ve got on what other clubs may be doing, or what managers have interviewed who leading into the draft. 

"We then need to try and work out whether to take player ‘X’ at 31 to secure him, and then have a greater chance at getting another player at 39, but if we flip it you might only get one of them and not the other, so it’s a bit of cat and mouse."

"It’s interesting now that trading of picks can occur during the Draft, so not only have you got your eye on the talent list and you’re trying to predict who might take who, but you’ve also got the opportunity to move yourself forward in the Draft by trading picks. 

"There’s a fair bit going on in the room on the night within the recruiting department about strategy, and opportunities that might present themselves, as well as just the talent pool.

"We split our duties up so that Simon Dalrymple (Sydney Swans National Recruiting Manager) primarily focuses on the talent. Chris Keane who’s our senior data analyst and myself will also look at the talent, as well as observing other opportunities in terms of enhancing our draft hand on the night. 

"We know that the Western Bulldogs might be looking to trade pick 23 depending on where the bid comes for Sam Darcy. We’ve had some preliminary discussions with them, we think it’s remote that they’ll accept our offer but then we might upgrade the offer, or they might not get another offer that suits them. That won’t occur until 5 or 10 minutes into the draft and then things can change pretty dramatically.

"You have be careful, because on the night you can trade picks in this year’s draft as well as future picks. You don’t want to get carried away trying to get something done, and give up something really important in next year’s draft. That’s where you must try keep a cool head and not get carried away in the moment.”

The 2021 AFL Draft gets underway on Wednesday November 24th and you can watch it live on from 6.30pm and follow all the Swans selections on our social media channels, website and app.

This news is brought to you by ELMO Software, the club's official list and recruiting partner.