Oh, how much can change in a year. Even less than a year.
Last September the Sydney Swans were on top of the world winning the AFL premiership over Hawthorn. The win is particularly rewarding as they are an expansion team (relocated from South Melbourne in the 1980s as part of the AFL’s nationalization) and that’s great for the team, league and city. But as the season nears and teams are competing the NAB Cup, the reigning champs remain winless after three games. they are now out of the competition. One of the teams they fell to was GWS, who was at the bottom of the ladder last year – this was the first time they have ever lost to GWS – making the loss even more confusing.
And everyone says ‘it’s just the NAB Cup.’ And it is. So it doesn’t mean anything going into the season. The winners get no advantage, and hardly a reward. Many teams use this time to show off their rookies/new guys and rest their hard hitters. So you don’t really expect to see Goodes or Richards or Mumford tearing it up (at least not the whole time) but you do expect to see a bit of effort. And the Swans just weren’t… there. They didn’t seem to care at all.
Here’s the problem with that: you can’t give the other clubs too much momentum. Like it or not, clubs who start winning can easily start plowing through other clubs and make them a force to be reckoned with. Especially a club like Carlton, who beat the Swans in round 1, and is always a fierce competitor. St. Kilda, as well, fell just outside the top 8 last year and a win over the reigning premiers could boost their confidence enough to steamroll some clubs in the regular season.
Although, maybe the Swans were smart. Now that they’re out of the NAB Cup, they can take care of business back at home – work on strategy, watch tape, and rest for the season. So which side of the coin are the Swan? Have they given the other clubs too much power heading into the season or are they smart to get out as soon as possible? We’ll see at the start of round 1…
(Photo Credit: Sydney Swans Facebook)