The Sydney Swans have finalised their football department for season 2020, with Brett Kirk, Dean Cox, John Blakey and Tadhg Kennelly all taking on new roles and Jarrad McVeigh joining the coaching panel. 

Kirk, who has led the Swans midfield over the past four seasons, will take up a new role in development. Cox will also move from midfield coach to a new assignment focused on on-field strategy and performance analysis. Blakey is set to become defence coach, while Kennelly and McVeigh will oversee the midfield group.

Head of Football Charlie Gardiner expects Kirk to thrive in his new role.

“I’ve got full confidence in Brett,” Gardiner said.

“He’s shown a great ability to relate to people as an assistant coach and get the best out of players. He is an outstanding football person and well placed oversee the development of our emerging young group. I have no doubt Brett will relish a new challenge and will build on his reputation as a highly credentialed coach.”

As well as remaining ruck coach, Cox will have the additional responsibility of analysing overall performance and strategy.

Gardiner believes Cox is a great fit for the new role.

“Dean is a really talented coach,” Gardiner said.

“He is astute, thinks critically about the game and is able to communicate and execute plans effectively. I’m confident Dean will provide invaluable support for John (Longmire) and, together with the rest of the coaching group, help fast-track the evolution of our team.”

McVeigh’s appointment to midfield coach will see the 2012 premiership co-captain make an immediate switch from playing to coaching.

The 325-game Sydney great, who retired at the end of season 2019, was one of the league’s premier midfielders when he won two Club Champion awards (2008, 2013) and earned All Australian selection (2013).

Gardiner says McVeigh is ready to have a significant impact in an off-field capacity.

“Jarrad had an  outstanding career and in many ways has been like an on-field coach over the past few years,” Gardiner said.

“I see him making a smooth transition into coaching. He’s highly respected, he has a great relationship with all of our players and staff, and he’ll be a really valuable addition to the coaching team.”

Meanwhile, Steve Johnson will continue in his role as forwards coach, which he has held since joining the Swans ahead of season 2018.

Gardiner says there’s plenty of excitement on the brink of the 2020 pre-season.

“We have a very stable coaching group but have looked to make some structural tweaks and changes to roles, which I think will improve us,” Gardiner said.

“We think we’re well placed to rebound from what was a disappointing year and we’re looking forward to getting stuck into the pre-season.”