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Pre-season guide: Sydney Swans

James Dampney  December 30, 2012 9:00 PM

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Swans' premiership star Daniel Hannebery and co-captain Jarrad McVeigh


Snapshot: Armed with the 2012 Premiership Cup, the Swans made sure they enjoyed it, spending weeks celebrating at home and then at various points around the globe, including the US, Mexico and Indonesia. But it was impressive to witness the shape the players were in when they returned to the club. Rather than being content with the flag, the playing group appears driven to try to win another one. There is no doubt the widely unexpected Grand Final victory over Hawthorn has given the players confidence, but the message has been they must improve. Players who weren't part of the premiership, plus the new draftees, are putting in the hard yards at training. Possibly even more telling, however, has been the attitude of the senior players. Led by Jarrad McVeigh, Ted Richards and Kieren Jack, there has been no let-up in the pursuit of further success.

Break: The Swans broke on December 21 and return on January 7.

Draftee watch: First-round draft pick Dean Towers has shown good pace and excellent disposal skills in the club's pre-season drills. Rookie-listed utility Dean Rampe has also been a stand out in his first few weeks at the club. But the pleasant surprise so far might just be young ruckman Sam Naismith. Another member of the rookie list, Naismith stands well over 200cm, but has impressed already with his speed and agility for his size. He is also getting the perfect grounding, training alongside Shane Mumford, Kurt Tippett and Mike Pyke.

Burning: Young defender Alex Johnson celebrated the club's 2012 premiership as hard as anybody, but he has quickly returned to business and has been the stand out pre-season performer. He took out the club's opening 3km time trial, while he is also a vocal contributor during training sessions and has been putting in a mountain of work. Some players that struggled to break into the side last season, such as Tommy Walsh and Jesse White, have also been doing their best to catch the attention of the coaching staff.

Medical room: The premiers virtually have a clean bill of health, with the vast majority of the list well into pre-season training. Co-captain Adam Goodes is the main exception, yet to commence running as he continues to nurse the knee injury he picked up in the Grand Final. But he is expected to be running again around Christmas. Nick Smith also has a minor knee issue, while Tommy Walsh is training following shoulder surgery. Apart from them, the Swans are fit and flying.

What they say: "After winning a premiership, we don't treat it any differently … we still need to improve. If we were beaten by 10 points in the Grand Final or didn't make the finals, as many said to us, we'd be saying 'Gee, we need to get better'. We're desperate to improve as a footy team, both individually and players that we recruit. The opposition are getting better all the time." – Swans coach John Longmire.

NAB Cup schedule:
Round one: v Greater Western Sydney and Carlton, Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday, February 24
Round two: v St Kilda, Etihad Stadium, Sunday, March 3
Round three: v Gold Coast, Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday, March 9