21/04/2024

Aaron Francis will be a Swan for 2023 and beyond, securing a move up to Sydney. (Image: Essendon FC; Design: Will Cuckson)

The Sydney Swans have bolstered their key position stocks by completing a trade for Essendon swingman Aaron Francis.

The 25-year-old will join the Swans along with pick 42, in exchange for pick 37 and a future fourth-round pick.

Francis played 54 games across seven seasons for the Bombers, but only managed four outings in 2022. He now has a chance to revitalise himself in a new environment if he can break into the Swans side next season.

He found some solid form in the late stages of 2018, playing the last five games of the year as a key defender, and averaging 13.2 disposals along with 6.4 marks and 8.4 intercept possessions per game out of the backline. Just 21 years old at the time, Francis was looking like he had huge potential, and would be a mainstay for years to come.

Since then, he has been used in a mixture of forward and defensive positions and has fallen out of favour in recent times.

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A versatile role player

Francis has the ability to play a role at both ends. His time spent in the back line, especially early on in his career, was very impressive. He has previously done well in matchups against some of the competition’s best key-forwards but can also play a role down back as a loose man.

With plenty of stars who excelled in the Swans’ defence this year, including the McCartin brothers Tom and Paddy, co-captain Dane Rampe, and Robbie Fox who played an important role later in the season, as well as veterans such as Jake Lloyd on the half-back line, Francis will have a much more experienced set-up around him, and will definitely be a solid fit whenever he is needed down back.

Meanwhile, Francis also adds to the Swans’ depth up forward. Their forward line has suffered from injury troubles in the past, and with Lance Franklin and Sam Reid going into the new season at 36 and 31 years old respectively, Francis will be another solid option alongside up-and-coming star Logan McDonald, and young big man Hayden McLean.

Francis managed to kick goals in three consecutive games for the Bombers this year, before falling out of the side. So it is clear that he would be able to play the role well at the Swans if called upon.

Hitting his prime

We have seen some really positive signs from Aaron Francis at the Bombers over the years, and while he has fallen out of favour, he is still only 25 years old and has many years ahead of him. Training alongside the stars that the Swans have could definitely motivate Francis, and if he can crack into the side and find some consistency he definitely has a chance at finding that form again.

Having just played in a Grand Final, the Swans’ forward and back lines will be difficult to break into at the start of the season for Francis, considering he hasn’t played since Round 10. But he has the ability to find his way in there, and the versatility he possesses will give him more chances to stake his claim to a place in the side as he hits the prime of his career.

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