Sydney star Luke Parker says Adam Goodes is irreplaceable, but the younger Swans have to stand up and drive the playing group.
With Goodes 35 and Rhyce Shaw 33 retiring, the oldest player on Sydney’s list is fullback Ted Richards, who will turn 33 next January, with just three other players, Ben McGlynn, Jarrad McVeigh and Mike Pyke, 30 or over.
The Sydney side that lost Saturday’s semi-final to North Melbourne contained eight players aged 22 or under.
Club games record holder Goodes was the last member of the Swans’ 2005 premiership team to finish playing with the Swans.
Parker, who missed the finals with a broken leg, said the Swans would miss Goodes and Shaw “massively.”
He said it was up to the next generation of players like Dan Hannebery, Sam Reid, Harry Cunningham and himself to step up and drive the group.
Asked if Goodes was irreplaceable Parker said “I think he is, a bloke like that is a pretty rare guy to come along.
“But the club also has to move on and we have to find ways to become successful again.
“We want to push next year and we’ve got a lot of young guys coming through.
“Isaac Heeney and blokes like that, who have shown a lot this year, and next year will improve again and hopefully we can keep driving the group.”
“The good thing is we’ve got a young group which will hopefully stay together a good five, ten years.”
He said it would be disappointing if Sydney lost speedster Lewis Jetta, who is reportedly seeking a trade back to his home state of WA.
“He’s such a big playmaker for us and he’S very dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands,” Parker said.
Although the absence of Kieren Jack, Lance Franklin, Reid and himself derailed Sydney’s finals campaign, Parker felt the Swans paid the price for lacking consistency over four quarters.
“We wavered too much at times in games,” Parker said.
“I know a big focus will be on our skill, partly because when we do work hard and we create the opportunities to kick goals, in the last few weeks especially, we have wasted opportunities and butchered the ball a bit.”
One notable absentee from Sydney’s Mad Monday function was star forward Franklin, who missed the finals with a mental health issue.
“A few boys have been in contact with him,” Parker said.
“Everyone has sent a lot of messages of support and I think when the time is right he’ll be good to come back and be around the boys and celebrate the season,” Parker said.