Key Swan: Josh Kennedy.

Key Swan: Josh Kennedy. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Rather than get annoyed at having a pesky defender hound his every move, star Sydney Swans midfielder Josh Kennedy beams with pride that he gets tagged on a regular basis.

The 25-year-old will be the main focus of attention for the GWS Giants in Thursday night's NAB Challenge match at Manuka Oval.

While the Swans will be without marquee recruit Lance Franklin, Adam Goodes and Kurt Tippett, Kennedy is jumping out of his skin for the first pre-season hit-out.

He has played 97 consecutive games since joining the Swans from Hawthorn at the end of 2009 and has evolved into one of the AFL's elite players.

That has forced rivals to try to come up with strategies to limit his influence on games, given he averaged 27 disposals per game last year.

Kennedy knows if he is targeted that frees up teammates such as the impressive Dan Hannebery to run riot.

''I'm pretty proud of it and it's a process of getting used to that and finding ways to overcome it,'' Kennedy said.

''Every week is different, every tagger is different, last year we had a good spread in the midfield and opposition teams had to weigh up who they had to shut down.

''That allowed a lot of guys to get off the leash a bit more.''

One of those was Hannebery.

The 22-year-old is coming off his first All-Australian selection after averaging more than 25 possessions per game and finishing sixth in voting for the Brownlow Medal.

''There's absolutely no reason why he can't have another great season,'' Kennedy said of the midfielder.

''He's a pretty mature kid and we've got a really even spread of midfielders who can rotate through. He's one who can take the next step and go to another level.''

Kennedy is one of the game's great success stories - going from a bit-part player at the high-flying Hawks to being a pivotal figure in the Swans' charge to the premiership in 2012.

In a sign of his importance to the Swans, they have re-signed Kennedy for another four years, keeping him in Sydney until the end of 2017.

''In hindsight, it's been an incredible move and I've surpassed all my expectations in coming to Sydney,'' Kennedy said.

''From the moment I walked in and played my first season it's been like home.

''I feel like part of the furniture.''