AFL

Swans' loss of experienced stars tempered by opportunities for emerging players

Opportunities abound for Sydney's young guns but backline stalwart Nick Smith concedes it will be hard for the club to immediately replace five premiership players who have left.

The Swans have lost close to 1000 games of experience through the retirements of Adam Goodes, Mike Pyke and Rhyce Shaw, with Lewis Jetta and Craig Bird heading to other clubs.

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Tough 2016 for Swans, says backline stalwart

Nick Smith says replacing all the old hands who have left will be a tough problem in 2016.

They've acquired former Western Bulldogs defender Michael Talia and ex-Eagles ruckman Callum Sinclair and have high hopes for 18-year Swans academy product Callum Mills.

"It is hard to replace the experience straight away. I think what it does do is give young guys an opportunity," Smith said at the SCG on Tuesday.

Nick Smith says the Swans will find it tough to replace the experienced hands who have left.
Nick Smith says the Swans will find it tough to replace the experienced hands who have left. Photo: Anthony Johnson

"Callum Mills will probably come into the side, Isaac Heeney with another year under his belt.

"While we do lose a lot of experience with Goodesy and Shawy, we do get some new opportunities for young guys coming through."

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Jude Bolton, another of Sydney's retired 2012 premiership players, said 2016 loomed as a huge transitional season.

"I think they've gone from the third or fourth oldest side in the competition to about the tenth oldest," Bolton said.

"With that comes a little bit of instability and different sides but I think there's opportunities as well."

Smith nominated a couple of players who shone at the tail end of last year as bolters for 2016.

"A few of the young guys have really impressed," he said. "Brandon Jack has been really good, (so too) Dean Towers. Hopefully for our side to improve we need those guys to get better.'

Smith said Mills was doing well and, together with co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, could be a contender to fill the running half back role Shaw filled so capably for many years.

Talia was settling in well at the Swans, according to Smith.

"He's a really strong competitor. He still needs to learn a bit about the game plan.

"But he's had a really strong start to his time at the Swans."

Smith recently signed a two-year contract extension till the end of 2018 and said he never contemplated playing anywhere else.

AAP