Magpies know they're the real deal: Swan - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies know they're the real deal: Swan

By Sam Lienert 07/09/2010 02:06:19 PM Comments (0)

Acclaimed Collingwood midfielder Dane Swan says the Magpies knew they were not at AFL premiership standard entering last season's finals, but this year is different.

Swan, named the AFL Players' Association's most valuable player on Monday night, said even before this season began the current premiership favourites were openly confident this could be their year.

"(Captain) Nick Maxwell and the rest of the boys sat down at the start of the year and said we might as well let everyone know where our expectations are, so we don't feel any heat or anything, not that we do anyway," Swan said.

"But we just sort of stated we were a top four side last year and expected to be a top four side this year and, if you do finish in the top four, you give yourself every shot at winning a flag.

"We've done everything right so far, we've got one more game to win before we get to the big one, so hopefully we can keep going."

That confidence was not matched last September, when the club finished the minor round in fourth spot, were comfortably beaten by St Kilda in their opening final, then copped a 73-point hiding from Geelong in a preliminary final.

Collingwood could again face the Cats at that stage this year, but will have a vastly different mindset.

"We knew we were probably the third or fourth best side in it back then, so it wasn't a real shock that we got beaten," Swan said.

"But obviously you don't expect to get beaten by that much.

"But this year we've got that confidence in ourselves, knowing we have beaten everyone that's left in the finals.

"So we know if we have a crack and play well that we can beat anyone."

Swan put his own rise to become the player acknowledged by his peers as the AFL's best down to hard work, something he acknowledged was a foreign concept in his early years on the Magpies list.

Drafted at No.58 in the 2001 national draft, he did not make his debut until late 2003, and it took a near-sacking at the end of that year to jolt him into action.

Swan and two other men bashed a cleaner in Melbourne's Federation Square in late 2003, the Magpie later pleading guilty to affray.

"When I first got drafted, all I wanted to do was party and have fun with my friends outside of footy," Swan said.

"It took me a couple of years, obviously that incident happened and I thought I was going to get sacked and didn't.

"From there I thought about what I wanted to do with my life and realised I wanted to be an AFL player and realised I had to work pretty hard to get where I wanted to be."

A blunt warning from coach Mick Malthouse proved the catalyst.

"It was after Mick sort of said `You've got one more chance, you're on your last legs, you're on very thin ice, you've got to show us why we want you around,' that was pretty much the time."

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