New role, new baby lifts Swans' O'Keefe - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

New role, new baby lifts Swans' O'Keefe

By Adrian Warren 12/09/2009 02:32:26 PM Comments (0)

New dad and newly-crowned Sydney Swans AFL club champion Ryan O'Keefe says he is on a "massive high" after winning the right kind of attention at the team's awards dinner this year.

At the corresponding function in 2008, O'Keefe was door-stepped by a large media contingent all wanting to know whether he would stay at the club.

"Twelve months ago it was a quite different set of experiences," O'Keefe told reporters.

Although O'Keefe expressed a desire to move back to Victoria, he ultimately signed a new long-term contract with the Swans.

Friday's award ended a wonderful week for O'Keefe, whose wife gave birth to their first child last Monday.

"I'm on a massive high this week, it's amazing," O'Keefe said.

The decision to stick with Sydney and a move into the midfield after half a dozen rounds of the 2009 campaign sparked an amazing upsurge in the 28-year-old's career.

Moved from his long-term role on the half forward flank, O'Keefe tallied 20 or more possessions in all but one of Sydney's last 16 games.

"I really enjoyed my footy this year. The coach has given me a new role, it's been a fresh start and I'm loving it.

"I've probably been more influential on a game, its been a new learning role."

O'Keefe revealed he had been badgering the Swans' coaching panel to give him a run in midfield before they finally agreed to the switch.

"I tried to push them into it for a while, they were a little bit hesitant but finally they gave in and said 'we will let you go in there' and I haven't looked back since," O'Keefe said.

He said he wasn't sure what response he would get from the Swans supporters after deciding to stay with the club but felt they had "warmed back into me" after a while.

The dinner was super-charged with emotion as the Swans bade farewell to four members of their 2005 premiership winning side - fullback Leo Barry, tagger Jared Crouch, centre half forward Barry Hall and full forward and club games record holder Michael O'Loughlin.

Hall told the large gathering he had "done my best stuff here" in a Swans guernsey and that any highlights package of his career would focus on his time at the club.

Hall, who retired from Sydney late in the season, said he was excited about his decision to try and resume his career somewhere else next year, but admitted there was no certainty he would be picked up.

"I understand it's probably a long shot with my age and all the rest of it, whether the deal can be done," Hall said.

While the last couple of his years with Sydney were blighted by disciplinary blemishes, Hall was convinced he had emerged from the club as a better person.

"I know I've got some issues and all that sort of stuff, but I genuinely believe I've walked out a better person than when I walked in," Hall said.

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