Opportunities abound for Sydney’s young guns but backline stalwart Nick Smith concedes it will he hard for the Swans to immediately replace five departed premiership players.
The Swans have lost close to 1000 games of experience through the retirements of Adam Goodes, Mike Pyke and Rhyce Shaw and Lewis Jetta and Craig Bird heading to other clubs.
They’ve acquired former Western Bulldogs defender Michael Talia and ex-Eagles ruckman Callum Sinclair and have high hopes for 18-year Swans academy product Callum Mills.
“It is hard to replace the experience straight away. I think what it does do is give young guys an opportunity,” Smith said at the SCG on Tuesday.
“Callum Mills will probably come into the side, Isaac Heeney with another year under his belt.
“While we do lose a lot of experience with Goodesy and Shawy, we do get some new opportunities for young guys coming through.”
Jude Bolton, another of Sydney’s retired 2012 premiership players, said 2016 loomed as a huge transitional season.
“I think they’ve gone from the third or fourth oldest side in the competition to about the tenth oldest,” Bolton said.
“With that comes a little bit of instability and different sides but I think there’s opportunities as well.”
Smith nominated a couple of players who shone at the tail end of last year as bolters for 2016.
“A few of the young guys have really impressed,” he said.
“Brandon Jack has been really good, Dean Towers. Hopefully for our side to improve we need those guys to get better.’
Smith said Mills was doing well and together with co-captain Jarrad McVeigh could be a contender to fill the running half back role Shaw filled so capably for many years.
Talia was settling in well at the Swans according to Smith.
“He’s a really strong competitor. He still needs to learn a bit about the game plan.
“But he’s had a really strong start to his time at the Swans.”
Smith recently signed a two-year contract extension to the end of 2018 and said he never contemplated playing anywhere else.
He was among a handful of Swans testing their cricket skills at the SCG on Tuesday against a team of touring Maasai warriors, who drew parallels between the game and their own culture.
“Bowling is just like throwing a spear and batting is just like using a shield to protect yourself,” said Sonyanga, one of the Maasai team members.