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All hands back on deck

Full squad returns There were plenty of fresh faces at training today as our senior players and new draftees arrive back to training.
Part of this pre-Christmas training schedule is getting the players conditioned for a really tough January and February period.
Dean Cox

Every Sydney Swans player – the youngsters, elder statesmen and fresh-faced draftees – is back on deck for pre-season training and looking to put in the hard yards.

That’s the message from midfield coach Dean Cox after the entire Swans list returned to the Club for the first all-in session of the pre-season at Bat and Ball Oval on Monday.

Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Will Hayward and the rest of Sydney’s first- to fifth-year players returned to the track a fortnight ago, with the more experienced Swans and seven draftees lacing up the boots for Monday’s session.

The players will bank three weeks of pre-season training before catching a breath over the Christmas period – and Cox says they’ve set their sights on a crucial block of work ahead.

“Part of this pre-Christmas training schedule is getting the players conditioned for a really tough January and February period,” Cox said.

“To get as many players as you can that have had surgery or interrupted off-seasons and get them to catch up with the playing group as quickly as possible is a big aim. And for the guys that are fit it’s about building a lot of the basic fundamentals into them during this period as the intensity ramps up. We want to make sure we can put some good sessions into them so they’re improving and developing.”

Cox said the return of the more experienced Swans brought a buzz to the Club.

“It was really exciting to welcome the more senior guys back to training today,” Cox said.

“One part of pre-season training is when the younger players return and then when you get the major part of the squad back it’s really exciting and only a couple of weeks until Christmas.”

While 319-game stalwart Jarrad McVeigh took the first steps of his 17th pre-season on Monday, Sydney’s draftees were eased into their first. 

The Swans signed Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney, Zac Foot, Durak Tucker, Harry Reynolds and Sam Wicks at last week’s National and Rookie Drafts.

Cox said the seven new faces were welcomed with open arms.

“There aren’t too many industries in the world that you turn over almost 25 per cent of your list in a season,” Cox said.

“And you inject the squad with kids from all over the country. It’s really exciting to see how excited they are to be in an AFL environment. They get welcomed in really quickly and made to feel like they’re a Swan as quickly as possible.”