He’s hardly a veteran himself, but Sydney ball magnet Tom Mitchell credits the Swans clutch of youngsters for bringing excitement to the rising AFL team.
A Swans side with debutant Harry Marsh and five players with fewer than 25 appearances proved too strong for previously unbeaten ladder leader North Melbourne at the SCG on Friday night.
Of that quintet, three had played under ten games and Marsh was the sixth player blooded in the Swans’ senior side this season.
Back Callum Mills and forward Tom Papley, who is currently injured have been among the young success stories.
“I think the mix we’ve got at the moment is working really well,” said Mitchell who turns 23 on Tuesday and won the inaugural Goodes-O’Loughlin Medal on Friday night.
“The senior players, Jarrad McVeigh, Josh Kennedy, Buddy (Franklin) complemented by the younger guys coming in.
“The young guys really bring some excitement to the team and it’s great to see.”
Senior coach John Longmire hinted Sydney would add to their tally of 2016 debutants before the season was out.
The infusion of youth was to some extent forced upon Sydney after the retirements or departures of Adam Goodes, Rhyce Shaw, Mike Pyke, Lewis Jetta and Craig Bird.
“Over the pre-season we had a few kids coming through and we needed it.” Longmire said.
“We lost nearly a 100 games of experience last year. We had the most or second most games lost out the door, so there was a need for our younger players to come on.
“John Blakey and Rhyce Shaw and Nick Davis in our development department worked with them pretty hard and our older players have taught them really well.
“We’re confident in watching our reserves again today that there’s still a few to come through and play really good strong senior footy between now and the end of the year.”
Longmire said having a full pre-season had been the key to Mitchell’s rise in form over the past two seasons.
“He wasn’t fit (in previous seasons) and he didn’t have enough training under his belt,” Longmire said.
“So when he was able to get a continuous run over the pre-season he was able to develop his game.
Mitchell attributes his fine form this year to searching for improvement.
“I think just continuously trying to improve aspects of my game whether that be my skills, running, contested ball, just overall improvement,” Mitchell said.
“Its great that I have got guys like Josh Kennedy, who I rate probably as the best inside mid in the comp
“I’ve got him to learn from, so I’m grateful for that and just looking keeping improving.”