Joel Hamling at Sydney training on December 4, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

SYDNEY recruit Joel Hamling has detailed the lengths to which the Swans went to entice him to the club, adding Fremantle's contract offer to stay at the Dockers was "a bit disrespectful".

The 30-year-old key defender has joined Sydney as an unrestricted free agent in order to beef up a backline that was left reeling last season by the sudden retirement of Paddy McCartin.

It is the West Australian's fourth club after he was drafted to Geelong in 2011 before he featured in a premiership in his two seasons at the Western Bulldogs and spent six years as a Docker.

Joel Hamling and Fletcher Roberts celebrate the Western Bulldogs' win in the 2016 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

While his travels have been plentiful, the Swans have kept a close eye on Hamling since taking an interest in him in his draft year more than a decade ago.

As they scoured the country for key defensive options at the end of the 2023 season, it was that relationship that helped lure him to New South Wales.

"I met Kinnear Beatson (Swans list and recruiting manager) 12 years ago in Perth. He interviewed me and we really liked it," Hamling told

"My manager was at a Sandringham game last season and Kinnear was there and asked what was going on with me. My manager said (I) might be out of Freo so it just eventuated like that.

Brodie Grundy, Joel Hamling, Peter Ladhams and Lewis Melican at Sydney training on December 4, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

"He came over to Perth and met me and spoke to my partner and it sounded really interesting.

"I never really wanted to leave Perth. I still had a contract there, but it wasn't as good as I would've liked. It was a bit disrespectful, to be honest."

That contract offer from the Dockers came after Hamling had managed just six AFL games in three seasons, which he believes led to a view that he was unwanted.

"I really enjoyed my time at Freo, they're a good club. But I don't think they thought anyone else would take me," he said.

"So they gave me a contract, it's probably bottom end but then someone else (Sydney) popped up. And then Freo come back with (an offer of) two years, but it didn't eventuate.

"I sort of had enough in the end and it was time to get out of there. So yeah, I packed up and took off to my fourth club."

Joel Hamling after the round 19 match between Fremantle and Sydney at Optus Stadium on July 22, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Hamling's quality when fit has never been in question, but it's his ability to get his body right for the rigours of AFL football that will be a query for Swans fans.

Having barely featured at the top level in the last three years, the Swans are taking somewhat of a punt on him. But he's adamant any risk is minimal.

"It's a very interesting one. I hadn't missed a lot of footy in my career through injury and then I got a bad ankle injury and missed two and a half, three years," he said.

"I've never had a soft tissue injury, so the only risk is my left ankle. But the only thing sore in my body at the moment (is) just my right foot. But other than that, hamstrings, calves, everything feels quite good.

"I don't feel 30. I feel like I can run like an eighteen-year-old still. I'm really enjoying it. If I didn't like it, I would've just retired. I’ve been given one last crack by a team that you could say is in the (premiership) window, I'm really excited about the prospect."

The McCartin void has created an opportunity for Hamling at centre-half back, but he's aware of the competition for spots on the Sydney backline and is keen to prove his versatility to John Longmire and his coaching staff.

"Tom McCartin and the guys that have been playing are the base and I just sort of fit around that. There's some good players - Aaron Francis, Lewis Melican and Dane Rampe.

"I'm really enjoying just coming in and filling a role and probably giving a bit of leadership and advice. And if I'm playing third tall or I'm playing on a small, or I'm playing lock down, I'm just happy to play anywhere, really."