Sydney's season never got going after losing its opening eight matches, with the Swans falling from the top four in 2022 all the way back to the bottom four in 2023.
BY THE NUMBERS
W-L-D (%): 4-14 (75.2%)
Players used: 52
Played every match: 7 – Harry Arnold*, Jake Bartholomaeus, Will Edwards, Hugo Hall-Kahan, Jaiden Magor, Cameron Owen and Lachlan Rankin (*includes eight matches for Brisbane Lions)
AFL players used: 25
Debutants: 22 – Jake Brown, Jack Buller, Lachlan Cabor, Caiden Cleary, Oscar Davis, Riley Fitzroy, Tye Gander, Charlie Haley, Ned Hawkins, Jacob Konstanty, Byron Laws, Tom Longmire, Jaiden Magor, Tom McCartin*, Caleb Mitchell, Hamish Morrison, Cameron Owen, Max Rider, James Tidemann, Jake Veale* 1, Monty Velthuis and Cooper Vickery (*previously played NEAFL)
Best and Fairest: 1st: Corey Warner, 2nd: Lachlan McAndrew, 3rd: Dylan Stephens, 4th: Lachlan Rankin, 5th: Will Gould
J.J. Liston Trophy votes: Dylan Stephens (8), Angus Sheldrick (7), Will Gould (4), Corey Warner (4)
Coaches MVP votes: Dylan Stephens (36), Corey Warner (25), Angus Sheldrick (19)
VFL Team of the Year representatives: Nil
Goalkickers: Hugo Hall-Kahan (23), Jack Buller (22), Harry Morrison (16)
(Averages – minimum 6 matches)
Disposals: Dylan Stephens (29.6), Angus Sheldrick (28.7), Corey Warner (22.3)
Kicks: Dylan Stephens (18.8), Angus Sheldrick (15.0), Will Gould (14.4)
Handballs: Angus Sheldrick (13.7), Caiden Cleary (11.7), Dylan Stephens (10.8)
Marks: Harry Arnold (6.4), Will Gould (6.0), Jake Bartholomaeus (5.3)
Tackles: Dylan Stephens (6.0), Nick Shipley (4.4), Angus Sheldrick (4.3)
Hitouts: Lachlan McAndrew (28.2), Cameron Owen (4.7), Jack Buller (1.4)
Clearances: Dylan Stephens (6.8), Angus Sheldrick (6.6), Nick Shipley (4.8)
Inside-50s: Dylan Stephens (8.0), Corey Warner (5.9), Angus Sheldrick (3.7)
Rebound-50s: Harry Arnold (5.3), Will Gould (3.7), Lachlan Rankin (3.7)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Swans had a spike mid-season after the arrivals of AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft selections Jack Buller and Harry Arnold, winning three out of four games from Rounds 16-20. That run included back-to-back thumpings of Essendon and GWS which showed what they were capable of when all the stars aligned. The development of youngsters such as best and fairest winner Corey Warner and young ruckman Lachlan McAndrew that saw them make AFL debuts were also highlights.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The first half of the season was nothing short of a horror show. Crippled by injuries across their entire squad, the Swans folded at three quarter-time of Round 1 against Box Hill Hawks and were largely uncompetitive in dropping their first eight matches before edging out Sandringham in Round 9. Only twice in their slide to 1-11 did they manage to kick more than 10 goals in a game and in fact only twice (in their two big wins) did they go past 12. That is the first place to look in their bid to climb the ladder.
While injuries did play a significant role, the Swans were the big disappointment of the season, falling from the top four in 2022 all the way back to the bottom four in 2023. Starting with eight consecutive losses meant their season was over before it even started and the couple of big wins late only served to prove what they were capable of at their best. The AFL Trade Period will strengthen the senior team, which will in turn boost the VFL line-up. It wouldn’t surprise to see them climb back into the upper echelon in 2024.