SYDNEY has stormed into "smoky" status after securing a remarkable finals berth, AFLW champions Erin Phillips and Ellie Blackburn say.
Speaking on The W Show, the pair was full of praise for the Swans, who soared into the top eight after a winless inaugural campaign – season seven last year.
Sydney locked in finals on Sunday with a big win over Fremantle away from home, snaring its third victory on the trot.
Blackburn believes the Swans are now primed to cause a stir, as they commence their premiership quest with an elimination final clash against Gold Coast on Saturday night.
"They could be a wild smoky come this finals series," Blackburn said.
"I'm not necessarily surprised because of the way Scott Gowans does coach. He wants to play exciting football and they've been given the licence to be able to do that, and why wouldn't you?
"You've got some serious star power in your team that allows you to do that. Chloe Molloy's last handful of games have been extraordinary."
AFLW great Phillips, who retired on Saturday, believes Gowans is deserving of the coach of the year award, having transformed a winless team into a finals dark horse in just a year.
"How impressive, second season in, playing finals. It's fantastic for the League to see Sydney in there. They could be a smoky, they might shake things up a bit," Phillips said.
"It's a massive reward for the work that (Gowans) and his coaches and that team has done, so it wouldn't surprise me if that coach of the year award goes to him."
Gowans' success also comes after he was forced to fight back from a shock prostate cancer diagnosis in April.
Following the Swans' win on Sunday, the former North Melbourne coach said he had committed every available minute to ensuring his team improved ahead of 2023.
"Last year, I was bitterly disappointed," Gowans said.
"I was fully focused on how we become a good side. I think that's the pleasing thing, to start to see that come to fruition."