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AFL Players' Top 50: Why the Swans made Kennedy sole captain

Clearance king's top 2016 takeaways Sydney Swans superstar Josh Kennedy comes in at no.7 in the Players' Top 50 countdown
Josh Kennedy vaults six spots to No.7 in this year's AFL Players' Top 50 - AFL,AFL Players' Top 50,Josh P Kennedy,Sydney Swans
Josh Kennedy vaults six spots to No.7 in this year's AFL Players' Top 50

OUTSIDERS might have been surprised by Sydney's captaincy change, but Josh Kennedy is already proving to be the leader John Longmire knew he had.

Kennedy took over the job from Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack in December, and the Swans' coaching staff and players have raved about his impact over the pre-season.

He's quietly spoken, but when the contested ball beast speaks, teammates take notice.

Longmire told the 28-year-old had no hesitation accepting the club's recommendation that he be the first sole skipper of the Swans since Stuart Maxfield in 2005. That came as no shock to the coach, who has seen the midfielder welcome every challenge he's faced, and carve out an almost peerless list of achievements in his seven seasons in Sydney.

Kennedy has won three best and fairest awards and never finished off the podium as a Swan, been named All Australian three times, and won last year's inaugural Gary Ayres medal for player of the finals, all after moving from Hawthorn where he struggled to play regular senior footy.

His continued class has also been recognised by his fellow players, who have voted him the League's seventh best player - up six spots in this year's AFL Players' Top 50. 

Josh Kennedy's 2016

25 games 31.5 average disposals
14 Brownlow votes Club best and fairest
All Australian Gary Ayres medal for best finals player

"Josh is a competitor. You don't do what he's done in football without wanting to drive high standards," Longmire said.

"Kieren (Jack) and 'Macca' (Jarrad McVeigh) were certainly able to do that and Josh will do the same.

"He'll be encouraging and nurturing when required and he'll drive standards when required.

"He doesn't say much but when he does he has the attention of the whole group, and he's getting more and more confident in that regard."

- Adam Curley

9. Luke Parker

Sydney Swans

Last year's ranking: 18
Official AFL Player Rating: 11
Debut: 2011
Games: 127
AFL Fantasy value: $663,000

Coming off a career-best season where he played every game and won his first All-Australian honour, the tough inside midfielder is poised for another strong year. Parker is not only prolific though the middle but also impacts on the scoreboard, having booted 26 goals in 2016 along with an average of over 25 disposals a game. Will run out as vice-captain this year, and remains an important and reliable part of the Swans' midfield brigade.  

8. Gary Ablett

Gold Coast

Last year's ranking: 2
Official AFL Player Rating: 164
Debut: 2002
Games: 288
AFL Fantasy value: $611,000

The dual Brownlow medallist deserves a change in luck this season after three injury-affected years, reflected in his six-place slide in the AFL Players' Top 50. Ablett has played just 35 games since 2014, with shoulder and knee problems hampering what had been a remarkably durable career. His possession rate and goal-kicking potency have unsurprisingly dropped since his original 2014 shoulder injury, but he's set to contribute more in the latter category in 2017 as he'll be unleashed as a part-time forward. He showed last year his best is still scintillating when he collected 40 touches against Hawthorn in round 14.

7. Josh Kennedy

Sydney Swans

Last year's ranking: 13
Official AFL Player Rating: 2
Debut: 2008
Games: 183
AFL Fantasy value: $653,000

Kennedy celebrates a clutch goal in last year's AFL Grand Final ...

... and is consoled after losing a classic to the Western Bulldogs. Pictures: AFL Photos

Who else made the cut in the AFL Players' Top 50?

50-41: Tough-as-nail Demon's time arrives

40-36: Magpie Treloar soars in the spotlight

35-31: What rising Blue Patrick Cripps still needs to improve

 30-26: Baby Bomber Zach Merrett's next challenge

25-21: Who is the Giants' most valuable player? 

20-16: The day Max Gawn became invincible

15-13: Tom Lynch versus the greats

12-10: How Sloane stepped up after Dangerfield

Who's next?

• Check out the rest of the AFL Players' Top 50 as they are revealed

The players pick the teams set to plummet

• Breakout stars: The players name the seven most likely to explode

Who topped the count in 2016?