Gary Buckenara analyses Sydney Swans list

List guru Gary Buckenara says Essendon’s demands for two first rounders in a trade for Joe Daniher might have been fair in 2017 but, groin issues limited him to 11 games in two seasons, he’s cautioned the Swans against giving up too much.

The clock is ticking for Sydney to win another premiership with its current group of stars.

Since losing the 2016 Grand Final, the Swans haven’t been a genuine premiership threat and missed the finals completely this season as its ageing list begins to lose players — Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Grundy, Kieren Jack and Nick Smith retired this year — who have been superstars for so long.

The Swans need big forward help for Lance Franklin. Picture: AAP
The Swans need big forward help for Lance Franklin.

In coming years Lance Franklin (33 in January), Josh Kennedy (31), Dane Rampe (30) and Callum Sinclair (30) will be gone. Will they be part of the Swans’ next premiership team? I’m genuinely worried their window for winning a flag with them is gone.

Sydney will have a young list heading into next year following the retirement of those four stalwarts and has put some decent development time into players like Will Hayward, Ollie Florent, Callum Mills and Aliir Aliir, but can these guys be the next generation of stars?

Coach John Longmire will be relying on them to take the next step, plus the continued improvement of young guns Nick Blakey and Tom McCartin, who I think can be a serious player, plus the development of recent draftees Matthew Ling and Ryley Stoddart, who have big raps on them.

Losing Tom Papley will be a big blow because he’s one of the few players who brings the speed and creativity Sydney lacks. The same can be said for Zak Jones.

Tom Papley and Zak Jones will be huge losses for the Swans if they depart. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Tom Papley and Zak Jones will be huge losses for the Swans if they depart.

That’s why I have some concerns about the Swans. They don’t have enough young players who look like they’re going to take the next step and become really good AFL players. Guys like Harry Cunningham, George Hewett, Ben Ronke and Jackson Thurlow have probably reached their ceiling. Are they going to get any better?

They’ve got too many C-graders.

The Swans have pulled off another coup with Essendon’s Joe Daniher requesting a trade to the club and, if they can get a deal done, he will team up with Franklin in one of the most dangerous tall forward setups we’ve seen. That’s providing Daniher can get his groin injuries under control.

Before his groin problems Daniher, would have been worth two top-10 picks in a trade, but the Swans currently hold pick No.5 and I think that’s a fair deal for a guy who has played 11 games in two years and who they could get for nothing as a free agent next year.

Sydney might throw in pick 25 as a sweetener but I definitely wouldn’t be giving up picks 5 and 9 (if they get that for Tom Papley from Carlton) for Daniher.

If Daniher comes in, don’t be surprised to see Sam Reid or McCartin moved to defence in 2020.

Will Joe Daniher be the answer to Buddy’s cry for help? Picture: AAP
Will Joe Daniher be the answer to Buddy’s cry for help?


The midfield is an area of concern. They’re desperate for leg speed and chasing a classy and quick midfielder during the trade period should be the priority.

Heeney and Florent can move into permanent midfield roles and I think Ling and Stoddart can add some speed in the future but adding some ready-made talent to come in and help now is required.


A: Lance Franklin, Isaac Heeney, Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker

B+: Will Hayward, Callum Mills, Dane Rampe, Aliir Aliir

B: Jake Lloyd

B-: Tom Papley, Ollie Florent

C+: Harry Cunningham, Zak Jones, Callum Sinclair, Sam Reid, George Hewett, Jordan Dawson

C: Darcy Cameron, Sam Naismith, Colin O’Riordan, Robbie Fox, Lewis Melican, Daniel Menzel

C-: Jackson Thurlow

Developing*: Tom McCartin, Nick Blakey

Developing: Matthew Ling, Jack Maibaum, Ben Ronke, Ryley Stoddart, Ryan Clarke, James Rowbottom, Zac Foot, James Bell, Joel Amartey, Toby Pink, Samuel Wicks, Justin McInerney, Harrison Reynolds


If Sydney can’t get a deal done for Daniher to come in and partner Franklin then it’s time the club starts to reinvest in the draft to develop its next wave of stars to take over from Kennedy, Parker, Franklin and the now-retired Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack.

Must target classy ball users who are really quick and who take the game on.

Who will succeed ageing leadership trio Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Dane Rampe at Sydney?
Who will succeed ageing leadership trio Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Dane Rampe at Sydney?


While the Swans could have one of the best forward combinations with Franklin and Daniher from next year, it takes more than two players to build a premiership team. I have concerns over the midfield — Kennedy showed signs of slowing down this year and Parker looked a bit the same to me, they both looked a bit tired. The loss of Zak Jones and Tom Papley takes away a lot of speed and creativity, which the Swans already lack, so I think there is still some work to be done both in the list build and development before they become a premiership threat again.

A middle of the pack finish is where the club finds itself now and that’s probably what we can expect from them next season as Longmire continues to regenerate the list and gets games into young players. They’re an 8-12 side.

But I have a lot of respect for Sydney and their ability to fast-track the development of their players so I wouldn’t be surprised if they prove me wrong.

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