Having secured a two-year contract extension, Collingwood champion Dane Swan says this pre-season has reminded him of 2010, when the Magpies ultimately delivered a breakthrough premiership.
As supporters lapped up the intra-club action at the club’s family day at Olympic Park on Saturday, Swan and teammate Heritier Lumumba were given strong ovations when their new deals were announced.
Swan will be a Magpie for life, his contract continuing until the end of 2016, while Lumumba was given a one-year extension until the end of 2015. After a tumultuous 2013 campaign, when he feuded with coach Nathan Buckley, walked out of the club, and later changed his name from Harry O’Brien, Lumumba thanked the Magpies for maintaining faith in him.
Swan had flagged that his current deal, expiring this season, could have been his last, even though he only turns 30 this month.
While that may have been said in jest, he has been warned by former teammates, such as Ben Johnson, about the realities of retirement.
”I was obviously close with a few boys that have finished their career over the past few seasons,” Swan said. ”Just speaking to them, even though they are having a good time retired, they say, ‘You are a long time retired, and while you can, make the most of it’.
”I was always going to keep going if they [the Magpies] wanted me. Thankfully, they did, so here I am.”
But he joked that has meant he has ”been interviewing for friends over the pre-season. I have been getting them all in, one by one, asking what they can bring to the friendship”, as the likes of Johnson, Alan Didak, Dale Thomas and Heath Shaw – all part of the so-called Rat Pack – have left the club.
”I have been walking around like a new kid at school looking for friends to talk to,” he said.
Swan, who had off-season wrist surgery, said his passion for the sport remained strong, despite the not-always-favourable off-field attention he receives.
”I love the game and I love being around my mates. That was probably the main thing that drives me,” he said. ”Obviously, success and premierships. I enjoy coming to work every day and being around my mates and having a laugh.
”If I wasn’t good enough, the club would have said: ‘No, that’s it.’ I certainly would go and play locally with my friends, because that’s what I love to do.”
The hard-running midfielder said he sensed the Magpies were fortified after a shock elimination-final loss to Port Adelaide last season and an off-season clean-out.
”The memories [of 2010] are close and fond, but it does feel a little bit ago. There is a little bit of feeling of 2010 I think this pre-season.
”The boys have got close and we have had a really good pre-season. We are under no illusions, it’s going to be pretty hard to get back to where we want to be, but we certainly think we have the group to do what we want.”
Swan said he would likely spend more time up forward this season but he didn’t think the new interchange cap would affect the burst-style game he enjoys. He was the sixth-most benched player in the league last season and ranked No.1 for disposals per minute.
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