NAB AFL U18 Academy Series Review: Sydney Swans

Photo taken by Matt Corby.


The Sydney Swans Academy rounded out their successful NAB AFL U18 Academy Series with their fifth straight win, defeating Tasmania by two-points.

The victory meant the Swans Academy finished the series undefeated, sitting at the top of the ladder after five comprehensive performances.

In the inaugural year of the new Under 18s competition format, General Manager of the Sydney Swans Academy, Chris Smith was proud of his squad’s efforts throughout the tournament.

“We thought the team’s effort over the five games was consistent – highlighted by hard tackling, strong running and relentless pressure,” Smith said.

“However, the first three games prior to the two-week break produced our best football.

“We dropped off after the break with respect to some of the systems we had put in place.”

Smith highlighted the team’s efforts in the opening round against the GWS GIANTS as a game that set the momentum for the rest of the competition.

“Our first game against the GIANTS set the tone for the carnival,” he said.

“It showed that our collective output will ultimately enhance everyone’s individual performance.

“The GIANTS have had the wood over the Swans Academy in previous years for this age group, so it was pleasing from that perspective too.”

The Swans had their most dominant performance of the carnival in their 66-point win against the Gold Coast Suns.

“Our most complete performance was against the Suns Academy – every player contributed to our biggest winning margin for the competition.”

There were a number of standout performances for Swans players throughout the series, with Smith in particular making mention of a number of their defensive players.

“I thought our defence was well organised and the scores against reflected that,” Smith said.

“Mitch Rogers was ‘Mr. Reliable’ and countered many opposition forward entries either by strong marking or aggressive spoiling.

“He was well assisted by Mikey Carroll and Joey Reinhard in the other key defensive posts and all were rarely beaten by their opponents.”

AFL NSW/ACT State Manager of Talent and Coaching, Darren Denneman singled out Nick Blakey and Jarrod Osborne as having great tournaments.

“Nick Blakey was the standout [for the Swans] but is only 17-years-old, so has another year until draft age,” Denneman said.

“I [also] like the look of Jarrod Osborne who has only been playing for a couple of seasons. [He is a] clean skilled inside midfielder who can navigate his way through traffic.”

Despite not playing the last two games, Smith was also impressed with Blakey who performed outstandingly in the first three rounds.

“He (Blakey) has an all-round game – runs incredibly hard, strong overhead and very clean. He is agile when the ball is on the ground,” Smith said.

“But his most admirable attribute is that he is a team player and provides the group with plenty of energy.”

Smith is confident that the strong team performances will be rewarded with a number of selections in the Allies team, which will compete in the National Under 18 Championships in June and July.

“I’m hoping that our players’ ability to work as a team, meet the running and off-field discipline to play at the highest level, will hold many of our players in good stead at the selection table,” Smith said.

“Our ability to win the series without a loss indicates a high level of discipline and coachability – all attributes that AFL clubs are seeking.”

Overall, Denneman was very impressed with how the Sydney Swans performed in the competition.

“The Swans were well prepared in all facets and showed their true professionalism,” he said.

“They won all five games and the series having travelled far and wide. It’s a real credit to the Academy staff, players, and program.”

The Allies squad will be announced next week with their first game against Vic Country at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday, 11 June 2017.