Oliver Florent in action during Sydney's clash against Essendon in round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WHEN Oliver Florent suggests something special is brewing at Sydney in 2024, it's worth taking notice.

There has been no player more ever present in the Swans line-up over the past seven seasons than the super consistent defender.

The 25-year-old will step out at the MCG against Richmond on Sunday for his 97th consecutive game in what is the fifth best current run in the AFL.

The last game Florent missed for Sydney was a home loss to Geelong in round 19, 2019.

His future is set to be the source of much speculation this year with his contract ending at season's end.

But right now, his focus is merely on continuing a sensational Swans start to the season that has him firmly believing that the ultimate goal is within their grasp after the pain of Grand Final defeat in 2022.

"That year, we weren't underdogs going into the game, but most of us had never been to a Grand Final, we were young and that was two years ago now," Florent told AFL.com.au this week.

Oliver Florent kicks the ball during the 2022 Toyota AFL Grand Final between Sydney and Geelong. Picture: Getty Images

"We've put in a lot more work, the guys have improved a lot, and we just think, 'Why can't we go there again and win it?'"

"There's a lot of water to go under the bridge of course, we're not going to be focusing on the Grand Final.

"I think we've got something special going this year though, everyone's put in the work over the pre-season, put in countless hours of training."

Florent's focus is very much on the here and now but there can be no ignoring the interest that will loom over his contract status as an unrestricted free agent at season's end, especially from Melbourne-based clubs for a player drafted from the Sandringham Dragons with pick 11 in 2016.

"I've spent the best part of over seven years here and to be able to play for this club has been an absolute privilege," he said.


"I think it'd be great to figure something out before the end of the year, but who knows? My management's sort of working through that at the minute, but I love it here and it's a really nice place to be.

"It doesn't really come across my mind. Just trying to play the best footy I can, that's the main thing that's on my mind. Yes, I'll have a chat every now and then (about his contract) but nothing's confirmed or anything like that so I just try to leave it to the other guys to do."

Florent is certainly making good on his desire to play his best footy so far this season, matching his near 20 disposal per game average from last year that saw him finish sixth in the Bob Skilton Medal.

He is one of the constants at Sydney amid an off-season of change through high-profile recruits and some positional switches that he says has given the Swans greater flexibility but also ensured pressure is placed on even the most consistent performers like himself.

"Yeah, definitely. There are some quality players that have come in and that doesn't hurt. I think you're constantly getting better anyway if you're in that mindset of, 'My spot's under pressure,'" he said.

Oliver Florent is tackled by Jordan De Goey during Sydney's clash against Collingwood in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

As the pressure has risen at Sydney, the quality has ascended with it.

The likes of Isaac Heeney, Chad Warner, Tom Papley and Errol Gulden are all in career best form at the minute and naturally grabbing the headlines but that's of little concern for a player like Florent, who can fly under the radar.

"Those guys do things that are really special, but we like to highlight the guys who are allowing them to do the special things, like covering their man and stuff like that," he said.

"There's a lot of stuff behind the ball that the spectators don't see that allows players like them to really shine and use their talents.

"They're obviously very talented players and they deserve all that sort of stuff. I'm not jealous at all. I'm really happy to be playing alongside these guys and it makes me happy that the team's better for it."

Isaac Heeney during the round one match between Collingwood and Sydney at the MCG, March 15, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

While his name may be glossed over at times by the wider football public, there'd be no shortage of admiration for Florent in the Swans' inner sanctum and from their fanbase.

That is likely to come to the forefront if he can continue his remarkable run of consecutive games going and get to three figures.

As it stands, only Jack Crisp (218), Christian Petracca (136), Charlie Cameron (121) and Callum Wilkie (112) have better records than Florent's 96.

"I'm just happy to be playing and if it's 100 in a row, it's more so that I'd probably make mum happy," he said.

"I've missed only one game since my second year, so I knew it would be around that. I think it's a credit to the physios. I've had some issues with a few things, a bit of growing pain, but to be able to overcome those issues and get out and feel good as well is a real credit to the program that they've put me on."

Chad Warner and Oliver Florent celebrate during Sydney's clash against Melbourne in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

All things being equal, Florent's 100th consecutive game is set to arrive against Hawthorn at the MCG in round seven.

As a Melbourne boy, it's an arena he relishes stepping out on, with the Swans aiming to go 4-0 when they take on the Tigers on Sunday.

"I love playing games at the MCG. It's a really fun thing to do, just to play away with your mates. Away trips I think is one of the better parts of footy and trying to silence, I guess a big crowd," he said.