He was lightyears ahead of second in the race for the Sydney Swans’ Most Improved award this year – and assistant coach Brett Kirk believes Jordan Dawson enjoyed the sharpest rise competition-wide.
The versatile 22-year-old buried the frustration of his first three seasons as an AFL footballer, which saw him run out for just five senior games, with the South Australian pulling on the red and white for 20 of a possible 22 matches.
Dawson starred all over the ground but was at his best at half-back, locking down on dangerous small forwards, taking intercept marks and moving the footy with pinpoint precision.
Hawk James Worpel, Crow Alex Keath and Kangaroo Nick Larkey all took giant strides in season 2019, but Dawson is Kirk’s choice for the AFL’s most improved.
“The thing for Jordan was he had a pre-season. He’s been around the club for a few seasons but, unfortunately, he’s had no continuity in his pre-seasons. He’s always had injuries that have hampered his pre-seasons then inconsistencies throughout the year,” Kirk told SwansTV.
“I think we all knew what he was capable of and he really produced for us this season. I’d say he was the most improved in the whole of the AFL.
“He had a really great year and I’m really happy for him. He got some really good feedback that the players really believed in him and I think he took a lot of belief from that.”
Dawson finished ninth in the Club Champion voting and topped the team in Round 5, Round 15 and Round 19.
The 2015 draftee fired on a wing in Round 5, posting 31 touches, gathering 11 marks and disposing at an efficiency of 90 per cent as Sydney fell to Richmond at Marvel Stadium.
He was then brilliant at half-back as the Swans trumped the Gold Coast Suns at the SCG in Round 15, collecting 28 possessions at a disposal efficiency of 86 per cent, before shifting forward against Geelong in Round 19.
The young Swan finished the SCG clash with the Cats with three goals from 17 disposals.
Kirk was glowing of Dawson’s multi-faceted game.
“This year we saw him play a number of roles. He started more as a forward, he’s got a lethal left-foot kick and he knows how to find it,” Kirk said.
“I’m sure Buddy (Lance Franklin) likes to get on the end of his kicks because he drops them in the swimming pool for him. He works really hard. He played up on the wing and over the back end of the year he played as a half-back intercept defender. So we think he can play anywhere.
“We know we definitely have a good player there and if he can keep his body intact he can play for a long time.”