Main content

Swans set to unleash the new Josh Kennedy

Harrison Marsh is modelling his game on star midfielder Josh Kennedy - ${keywords}
Harrison Marsh is modelling his game on star midfielder Josh Kennedy
At 189cm as a midfielder, we've seen what Josh Kennedy can do, and at that size if you're really big and strong and you've got power, it helps
John Longmire, on Harrison Marsh
FOR THE past four years, Josh Kennedy has emerged as a nightmare match-up for opposition sides, and now the Sydney Swans are grooming a youngster that fits the powerful midfielder's mould.
 
Harrison Marsh was selected 43rd overall in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft and began learning his trade in the NEAFL last season before a hamstring injury ended his maiden campaign early.
 
But he returned from the off-season in outstanding shape and is now drawing comparisons with Kennedy, who has become a best and fairest winner and an All Australian since joining the Swans from Hawthorn in 2009.
 
At 189cm, Marsh is a shade taller than Kennedy and still has some way to go to match his chiselled 96kg frame, yet the signs are good for the just-turned 20-year-old.
 
"Marsh came back after the off-season in great condition," Swans coach John Longmire said at the Swans' training camp in Coffs Harbour. "That's always an important part.
 
"It's very difficult if you come back in the same condition to catch up to the guys in front of you. You never catch up.
 
"But if you do that work over the break and you're actually in front, it makes it a bit easier to stay there.
 
"He's been able to do that through a really good off-season, which is a credit to him. He's got a lot to learn, but he's certainly a big body at the stoppages. He's got real power to his game.
 
"At 189cm as a midfielder, we've seen what Josh Kennedy can do, and at that size if you're really big and strong and you've got power, it helps."
 
Kennedy, who has had a trouble-free pre-season himself and shown outstanding touch in some early intraclub matches, has taken note of Marsh's improvement.
 
Despite his lack of experience, Kennedy said the playing group would trust the West Australian to come into the senior team as soon as round one.
 
"We're always together in most of the drills, either manning up on each other or in the same team," Kennedy told AFL.com.au.
 
"There's no doubting his size and strength. He's a big, powerful guy and pretty quick off the mark.
 
"The way he's trained and applied himself in the pre-season, he looks like he's really improved and you'd trust him to really come in and fill one of those spots with no problems.
 
"He's made a really good impression and could certainly play at any stage during the year, whether it be as early as round one or later in the year, if he keeps going the way he's going."
 
The Swans had six debutants last year – Tom Mitchell, Dane Rampe, Brandon Jack, Jed Lamb, Xavier Richards and Shane Biggs.
 
Some, like Mitchell, forced their way in due to some irresistible form, while others benefited from the club's long injury list.
 
Some have expressed a view it will be hard for a similar number to make their debuts this season, but Longmire is keeping his options open.
 
"You don't know what a Dean Towers or a Harry Marsh are able to do and whether they're able to come in and contribute," Longmire said.
 
"Then with this year's draftees, we're pleased with (Toby) Nankervis and we've been really pleased with Zak Jones. Those guys can push up as well.
 
"I would never have thought Brandon Jack would play nine games last year or Dane Rampe would play all bar one.
 
"We had six debutants last year and we believe we've still got a few to come who could be really good players for us."