Jack a leader from the front

This article first appeared on sydneyswans.com.au

In his first year at the helm, Jack is setting the right example on the field, and is currently leading the AFL Coaches Association Champion Player of the Year Award ahead of Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett Jnr.

The 26-year-old, who took over the co-captaincy from Adam Goodes at the beginning of the year, said he aspired to follow in the footsteps of some of the club’s great leaders.

“Leading by example is probably one of the things I really wanted to focus on,” Jack told sydneyswans.com.au on Wednesday.

“Looking at some of the previous leaders of this club in Brett Kirk, Craig Bolton, they all lead by example and did it on a consistent basis, so that was something that I really wanted to take on board and just play well and play the type of footy that I know I’m capable of and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do that.

“To do that has been pleasing to this day, but there is still a few weeks to go and hopefully a few weeks going into the finals too.”

While admitting last weekend’s performance against Collingwood was neither his nor the team’s best, Jack said he believed his first year of captaincy had also been one of his most consistent on the field.

After 20 rounds, the midfielder is averaging almost 26 disposals, seven tackles and one goal per game, and has produced some stellar performances including best on ground efforts against the Western Bulldogs (30 disposals, 13 tackles, two goals) and Richmond (26 disposals, 10 tackles, two goals).

“I was a fair bit off on the weekend, but previous to that I think I’ve been pretty consistent about the way I’ve gone about it,” Jack said about his form in 2013.

“I’ve been around the club now for a long time and I know my role and I know what I’m good at as a player and I’m just trying to bring that week in, week out and especially now that we’ve got a lot of younger boys coming in, show them what it’s like playing for the Swans and what is expected.”

Despite now holding the top job at the Swans, Jack doesn’t believe his role on field has dramatically changed this season, adding that the entire Swans’ leadership group which includes the likes of fellow co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, Adam Goodes, Ted Richards, Josh Kennedy, Nick Smith, Ryan O’Keefe and Rhyce Shaw, all play a part in leading the club in the right direction.

“We’ve got a lot of leaders out on the ground who talk to each other consistently and that was happening even previous to last year,” Jack said.

“I’ve probably put a little bit more pressure on myself to get out there and speak a bit more.

“We’ve got eight or nine in our leadership group which is fantastic, and the next group who are coming are starting to buy into that.”

One young player who has bought into the Swans’ this season is Kieren’s younger brother Brandon, who has played eight games in his debut season.

Jack said he could not be happier with Brandon’s first season at the club and his determination to become a regular contributor for the Swans.

“He’s done really well and I’m really proud of him and the way he’s bought into the club and has bought into his role that the club is requiring him to play,” he said.

“He’s really grown as a player and as a person this year and all credit to him, he’s worked really hard and he’s really determined to make it, and he’s doing really well.”

Following last weekend’s loss, and with just three matches remaining, Jack said the Swans needed to return to the form which saw them win six consecutive matches between rounds 14 and 19.

The co-captain said this weekend’s round 21 clash with St Kilda at the SCG was the perfect opportunity to build some from in the lead-up to September.

“I think it’s just important to be playing well at this time of year and you just want to be putting wins on the board and getting some momentum,” Jack said.

“It starts this week against St Kilda.

“We’re back here at the SCG and hopefully we get a big crowd in and it will certainly help in gathering some momentum towards the business end.”