Sydney Swans speedster Harry Cunningham says a hard-running midfielder in his first year at the club is among a number of youngsters grabbing his attention in the pre-season.
The Swans locked in five new players in Dylan Stephens, Will Gould, Elijah Taylor, Chad Warner and Brady Rowles at last November’s draft, while Irishman Barry O’Connor had already agreed to terms and Jack Maibaum was relisted.
When asked at a cross-code promotion at Sydney University on Thursday which of his young teammates are blitzing the summer sweat, Cunningham said Stephens was among the stand-outs.
“Young Ollie Florent has already played a fair bit of footy but he’s stepped it up again this pre-season,” Cunningham told SwansTV.
“I think it’s actually his first full pre-season. He’s had a really good pre-season and Will Hayward is the same.
“Then there’s young Dylan Stephens, who’s come in with a really good attitude, learnt off the older guys and implemented it in training. He’s had a good summer and I’m looking forward to seeing all of our young boys play some games this year.”
Cunningham has helped mould Florent’s game ever since the fleet-footed midfielder arrived at the Swans via the 2016 AFL Draft.
While Cunningham played most of his footy in defence in 2019, the New South Welshman has spent plenty of time on a wing during his 113-match career – and Florent sees him as an on-field coach.
But although Florent has missed just one AFL match over the last two seasons and become a crucial member of Sydney’s best 22, a typically humble Cunningham was quick to divert praise.
“I don’t think any of the credit needs to be put towards me,” Cunningham laughed.
“Ollie’s put in the hard work and he’s a very talented player. He’s worked really hard over a couple of years now, it’s starting to pay off and he’s becoming a really quality player – not only just for us but across the AFL. I’m looking forward to continuing to see him rise and seeing what he can do this season.”
Cunningham and teammate Tom Papley joined star Australian cricketer Josh Hazlewood and players from GWS, the Cronulla Sharks, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, the NSW Waratahs, Sydney FC and the Sydney Kings for a media opportunity and nets session on Thursday afternoon.