Record: 14 wins, 9 losses
What went right? Making the eight for the ninth consecutive time was a feat in itself as the Swans faced adversity all season, but showed their spirit was strong when they remained a top-four chance until the final round. Despite battling injury throughout, Lance Franklin was outstanding while a group of young players including Will Hayward, Oliver Florent, Ben Ronke and Tom McCartin emerged to lay a foundation for the future. Aliir Aliir, although inconsistent, showed he had not lost any of his capacity to dominate games when he was on, while Callum Sinclair was all heart in shouldering the ruck. George Hewett is an underrated, young midfielder who regularly shut the best out of games.
What went wrong? Injuries to key players was a constant problem for the Swans who lost ruckman Sam Naismith before the season and Sam Reid played just one game. Those injuries on top of Kurt Tippett’s pre-season retirement left Franklin alone as a tall forward target and the Swans only topped 100 points once after the mid-season bye. Throw in the loss of Callum Mills to an ankle injury, unluckily suffered when mucking around with teammates away from the club, and Dan Hannebery’s inability to perform due to niggling groin and knee injuries and the Swans were always behind the eight ball. It all came home to roost in their disastrous finals performance against Greater Western Sydney at their home venue, where they inexplicably had a 5-7 win-loss record in 2018.
Likely best and fairest? Looms as a tight battle as many performed on a relatively inconsistent basis, dominating one week and going missing the next. Franklin and Jake Lloyd were the most consistent pair of contenders, while Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Isaac Heeney were outstanding at times and then below their best at others. For consistency, it’s Lloyd but Parker and Franklin will challenge.
The one thing they need? A foil for Franklin, which means despite their constant denials, they will need to look at a player such as Collingwood’s Darcy Moore to stop the Franklin-or-bust position they find themselves in. They also need to rebuild their midfield as their stars of yesteryear hit the twilight of their careers with Hannebery a potential departure.