AAP2 Minute Read
Nick Blakey has predicted a bright AFL future for John Longmire’s Sydney side despite their “shattering” finals exit at the hands of Carlton.
The Swans were outmuscled during the second quarter of Friday night’s elimination final and trailed by as many as five goals before halftime.
They bravely fought back, falling just seven points short of pinching victory.
Blakey said the performance was a reflection of Sydney’s season after they slipped to 5-8 at the halfway point following last year’s grand final appearance.
“I’m super-proud of the group for showing fight and coming back this whole year,” Blakey told AAP.
“We were 15th after round 17 and I don’t think many groups even play finals from there, but it’s a weird feeling.
“They’re tough lessons to learn at this time of year and it just doesn’t feel right that we’re finishing up.
“It feels like we’ve got more to give but we let ourselves down in a quarter of football.”
Blakey committed his long-term future to Sydney when he signed the AFL’s longest contract in June, agreeing a monster seven-year extension that ties him to the club until the end of 2031.
The 23-year-old expects fellow young guns including Chad Warner, Justin McInerney and All-Australian Errol Gulden to play key roles in keeping the Swans in finals contention for years to come.
“The core group of younger players are extremely close and hopefully everyone sticks around and we can build something special,” Blakey said.
“It’s an incredibly close group and we were undermanned for a lot of the year really, with key players not being able to play.
“As soon as we got those boys back we started to go on a roll.
“I’ve got no doubt we’ll be back amongst it next year but it hurts right now.”
Blakey is confident Sydney’s emerging talls – Hayden McLean, Logan McDonald and Joel Amartey – can continue their progression in the wake of champion goalkicker Lance Franklin’s retirement.
“At the back end of the year we didn’t have Lance for a long time,” Blakey said.
“As much as we’d love to have him – he’s one of my best mates and I’m very fortunate to play with him – it’s next man up, so we’ll be right.”