Best Swans squad ever, says McVeigh

Turning point: Veteran Jarrad McVeigh (right) believes the Swans have the list to compete with the big sides this season.  Photo: Anthony Johnson
Turning point: Veteran Jarrad McVeigh (right) believes the Swans have the list to compete with the big sides this season. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Jarrad McVeigh has declared Sydney's current list the best he has seen at the club and capable of beating any team in the competition this year if the players maintain their high standards.

McVeigh, recruited in 2002, said the talent the Swans had assembled for this year exceeded even that of the 2005-06 groups, which fell agonisingly short of claiming back-to-back premierships.

The Swans' 2005 premiership team contained six players who had earned All-Australian selection, plus another two – Ryan O'Keefe and Sean Dempster – who would later collect the honour. In total, that side had 16 All-Australian jumpers.

The Swans' 22 which ran out last Friday night against Hawthorn boasted seven All-Australians, and 13 team-of-the-year selections in total. There is still time for the club to add to its collection.

Such is the Swans' depth of talent they can afford to have O'Keefe, a former club champion and Norm Smith Medallist, running around in the seconds, while Gary Rohan and Tom Mitchell would also be welcomed by most rivals.

Since winning the 2012 flag the Swans have controversially added star forwards Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett to their list.

"We've got the talent – but they want to work hard, so that's the main thing," McVeigh said.

"We've been lucky enough to be a successful side and play in a lot of finals series. [In] 2005-06 we probably didn't have the talent we've got now but the teamwork was unbelievable back then.

"We saw that in 2012 and we've added Bud and Tippett and that polish. And the young boys coming through, we're looking good, I think."

McVeigh's comments came after the Swans accounted for the reigning premiers, a performance the captain said was the team's best this season.

"Definitely. The Freo game – we took a real good step forward, but against the Hawks, who are arguably the best team in the comp at the moment, [it's] a real step forward for us."

He said that whereas the Swans' win against Fremantle was notable for the team's defensive aspects, the triumph against the Hawks showcased its offensive skills.

"That's what we want to be – a two-way running team, attack and defence.

"We did that for four quarters. They were always going to come with momentum. You weather that, then you push back again, that was really pleasing – the back end of the game, to push and really get over the line."

The Swans' poor first month this season was the "shock" they needed, McVeigh said. They are now on the rise after four consecutive victories and head into their final game before their bye, against Essendon, in fourth with a 5-3 win-loss record.

There should be more improvement to come considering Adam Goodes has played only one full game while the Franklin-Tippett pairing is still in its early days.

"They played well but once those guys get back to full fitness we'll be going along really well," McVeigh said.

"As a group the midfield's playing well, the defenders have been doing their jobs, so we're going in the right direction. We feel really confident we can beat any team if we bring that kind of effort.

"We're only one game behind Hawthorn now. We're not far off and we're going about it the right way.

"It would have been nice to win those early games but that didn't pan out that way. It was probably the shock that we needed. We're training hard, we're doing extras, it's showing out on the field."

McVeigh said the Swans' nine-man leadership group, which includes Kieren Jack, Josh Kennedy and Rhyce Shaw, had responded well after some soul-searching earlier in the season.

"If they're doing the right things the rest of the boys follow," McVeigh said.

"To the younger players' credit they were the ones stepping up early on in the season and the leaders had to step up.

"We had a hard look at ourselves. We've been in good form and the rest of the team follows. The more guys we have pushing on the wall the easier it becomes."

This story Best Swans squad ever, says McVeigh first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.