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Roos refuses to bottom out

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Roos refuses to bottom out Empty Roos refuses to bottom out

Post by Admin on Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:02 pm

TONIGHT the oldest list in the competition, the Sydney Swans, lines up against the youngest: Hawthorn. The premier of 2005 will take on that of 2008. It is a clash not just of footballers but of philosophies.

Many point to the Swans as a team headed for demographic wipeout as a host of 30-something stars approach the end of glittering careers. More worrying still, the looming exodus will occur when the draft is held captive by new teams on the Gold Coast and in western Sydney. Restocking will be hard. The Swans are in a bind. Unwilling to "bottom out" due to the fear their support will collapse, they must build for the future without the draft picks that a stint as wooden-spooners would produce.

"Up here it would be very difficult to do what Hawthorn or Carlton did," coach Paul Roos said yesterday. "If you are a Carlton, a Hawthorn, a West Coast or a Crows (player), you know you have got an enormous amount of support. One of the predicaments we face is that three years on the bottom of the ladder, particularly with a second team coming in, would be a disaster for the Swans, a disaster for the AFL. There is added pressure on Sydney and Brisbane as flagship teams."

Roos said he envied coaches such as Alastair Clarkson and Brett Ratten who had the freedom to rebuild club lists with top draft picks, taking a long-term approach to build a new list from the ground up. "There's not a lot of pressure on coaches rebuilding with young teams. It is a good formula and it does buy you time, there's no question.

"If you asked who is going to retire in the next couple of years, it would be all of the Swans' good players," Roos admitted, stressing that the Swans must remain competitive in order to guarantee their future.

"Our challenge is to work out how to consistently perform well. If the Swans finish bottom in 2011 as they are putting a second team in, it is catastrophic for football in NSW. Make no mistake about that."

Roos is worried about the AFL's expansion into western Sydney and its impact on a Swans outfit that saw attendances, membership and TV ratings all dip last year, despite making the finals.

"If we are not in a position that is seemingly impregnable, I think the second team could be disastrous for football in NSW," he said.

Impregnability appears unlikely. Barry Hall, Brett Kirk, Adam Goodes and Michael O'Loughlin have been the stars of a premiership team and also the faces of a code in hostile territory. Kirk, Roos says, "would no doubt be among the best dozen players ever to play for Sydney".

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