Sydney Swans won’t suffer grand final hangover, says Josh Kennedy in exclusive interview, joins 2023 Carlton Draft pool
Sydney Swans great Josh Kennedy has shot down the prospect of there being a hangover from last year’s grand final loss, backing his old teammates to continue on their upwards trajectory this season.
Sydney were one of the stories of the 2022 season, rising from sixth in 2021 to reach the decider before being beaten by 81 points by a rampant Geelong side.
Recent history has not been kind to teams who have been soundly beaten on the biggest stage.
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Since 2007, when Geelong beat Port Adelaide by a whopping 119 points in the grand final, there have been six other teams to be beaten by 40 or more points in a grand final.
Of the seven teams including Port Adelaide, no team has finished higher than fourth in the following season, with three of the seven missing the finals altogether.
Kennedy’s Swans rebounded after being soundly beaten in the 2014 decider by Hawthorn by finishing fourth in 2015, and he believes the current crop of Swans can emulate that team’s success once again.
“I wouldn’t think so. You’re not considering it every week that you’re playing. Time will tell,” he told Wide World of Sports when asked about the prospect of a grand final hangover.
“I’m sure the guys will just continue to focus on the process and go out there and give it their all every week.
“I think they’ll bounce back. They’re an extremely resilient group of guys, not just the players, the whole club and support staff and everyone involved.
“They’ll just continue to do what’s made them a great footy club over the last 25 years.
“The competition is so even that anything could happen, but I sit as a Swans supporter now on the other side of the fence and I think for myself and everyone else in that position it’s going to be a pretty exciting few years ahead.”
After being a mainstay in the Swans’ engine room since joining the club in 2010, Kennedy was forced to watch from the sidelines during his team’s run to the grand final last year, an experience he admitted was “bittersweet”.
He played the last of his 290 games in a round 10 loss to Carlton and never got picked again, only being called upon as an unused substitute in a round 20 win over the Giants.
“I would’ve loved to have finished my career playing in an AFL game and knowing it’s my last game, but fairytale finishes don’t come around too often,” he said.
“I certainly didn’t expect it, so it didn’t bother me too much. I still got a great amount of joy watching the guys develop and getting better every week and just built on the excitement throughout the year of going from strength to strength.”
Despite the grand final defeat, Sydney extended John Longmire’s contract for another two years, a deal which was “well-earned” according to Kennedy.
“It’s an amazing feat for him personally,” he said.
“He puts so much heart and soul into his coaching, his players and the whole club.
“The decision to sign on for two years I know was a very considered one and he knows as well as anyone and certainly would not underestimate the effort and desire it takes to get back in the driver’s seat and to continue to push for a premiership.
“He leads by example and it’s great for the footy club.”
While Kennedy is no longer in the Swans’ engine room, he leaves behind a list brimming with young talent, and named 20-year-old midfielder Errol Gulden as a prime breakout candidate for 2023.
“He’s got a lot of natural ability, but he’s just an absolute sponge and so coachable in terms of following instructions,” he said.
“He’s got an old head on young shoulders being able to understand the game plan, being able to soak it all up.
“His intensity around training and training standards and willingness to get better combined with his natural abilities makes for a pretty exciting package at the beginning of his career.”
Kennedy may no longer be on an AFL field, but he’s become the latest retired great to put his name in the hat for the 2023 Carlton Draft, joining Kane Cornes, Nathan Buckley, Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince, and said he couldn’t turn down the prospect after hearing of past players’ experiences.
“I was a bit hesitant at first given I wasn’t sure how I’d feel, whether I’d want to play a game of footy, but talking with a few people that have done it in the past and hearing from the guys who did it last year who said it was one of their best experiences, I thought I’d give it a crack,” he said.
Entries for the 2023 Carlton Draft across Victoria are now open. To nominate your club head to http://www.thecarltondraft.com.au. Entries close March 27 with six lucky clubs to be announced in early April.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve played a game of footy where you’re not putting as much pressure on yourself as I have over the course of my career.
“It’s really playing for fun and getting back to the roots of playing sport, it’s all about the enjoyment.
“It’s been a long time since that’s been the case so I’m looking forward to getting back to it.”
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