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Swans rookie puts Grand Final miss behind him

Ben Guthrie  December 3, 2017 12:44 PM

Draft prospect: Joel Amartey Watch highlights of 2017 draft prospect Joel Amartey in action
TAC CUP 2017 Grand Final - Geelong Falcons v Sandringham Dragons

The Swans were delighted to pick up Joel Amartey in this year's rookie draft

By the back end of the season, we thought he was one of the more improved players Australia wide

FROM bitter disappointment to unbridled joy – new Sydney rookie Joel Amartey has been through a plethora of emotions in the last two months.

Amartey was selected by Sydney with pick No.28 in last Monday's rookie draft, with the Swans keen to bolster their tall forward and ruck stocks in finalising their 2018 list.

The excitement of being drafted to the Swans comes just a mere two months after the Sandringham Dragon missed a shot at goal after the siren that would have secured victory in the TAC Cup Grand Final over the Geelong Falcons.

Unfortunately, for Amartey, after taking a strong pack mark at the tip of the goal square, his set shot from 15m out skewed to the right and the Falcons claimed a two-point win.

"It's obviously one of those ones where you'd love the fairytale but it wasn't to be," Dragons talent manager Ryan O'Connor told AFL.com.au.

"He was flat for a few days and kicking himself for the missed opportunity, but I also thought with the support of his teammates and the Falcons players out on the field, and that resilience that he shows, he bounced back pretty well. 

"You can think 'what if' but I think he can now really set his sights on the next chapter at the Swans."

Swans recruiting manager Kinnear Beatson said the missed goal was not something the club focused on when discussing whether to draft Amartey as a rookie. 

Earlier in the Grand Final, Beatson had seen the athletic big man win the footy at ground level and then execute a brilliant right foot snap across his body.

That, more than anything, made Beatson sit up and take notice of what Amartey could produce if given the opportunity to ply his trade in a full-time environment. 

"We met Joel after the Grand Final and I said to him "I'm not worried about the goal that you missed, I'm more impressed with the goal that you did kick" because I haven't seen many blokes that are 195cm-plus that have the agility to kick that type of goal," Beatson said. 

"My advice was not to dwell on what had happened, it was more about how much room for improvement there was in that."

Joel Amartey feels the pain from his late miss in the TAC Cup Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

O'Connor hopes there are more successful chapters to be written in Amartey's career, pointing to his upside as a player after just one full year in the Dragons' football program. Before that, Amartey spent his time playing basketball and soccer. 

Beatson first spotted Amartey last year while the Swans' recruiting team was tracking Ollie Florent, whom they drafted with pick No.11 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, while playing for Mentone Grammar in 2016. 

"He had some really interesting athletic qualities, he had really good agility for such a big fella, he never lost his feet and he had clean hands – so we just put that in the back of the mind," Beatson said. 

Beatson next viewed Amartey while scouting Ed Newman, a prospect who chose cricket over football and did not nominate for the draft, earlier this year when Mentone Grammar played Ivanhoe Grammar. 

"In the game Joel was given the licence to go for his marks and you could see that he was steadily improving and gaining confidence in that," Beatson said.

"When the Under 18 Championships were on he got more exposure and was able to play at the Dragons a bit more.

"By the back end of the season, we thought he was one of the more improved players Australia wide."

Despite standing 195cm (although he is still growing), Beatson views Amartey more as a ruckman who can go forward at this stage of his development. 

Amartey's follow up work and his ability to stay in the play by laying blocks or winning the ball at ground level and feeding out to his teammates are just some of the traits that appealed to Beatson. 

Amartey will have the opportunity to work with new Swans assistant and ruck coach Dean Cox who will help mentor the youngster.

"Dean was really impressed with his tape in the lead up to the draft," Beatson said. 

Florent has already put his hand up if Amartey wants to move in with him when he arrives in Sydney. 

O'Connor said he was proud of Amartey's resilience after experiencing the highs and lows of footy throughout the season. 

"Joel's been through the ups and downs in football, but now it's presented him with another opportunity to grab, so hopefully things pan out well for him," O'Connor said.