How is Tom Hickey enjoying his fourth club? The Sydney Swans ruckman is ready to help it on its finals journey in his self-described “favourite” season yet.
With Hickey in tow, Sydney will see September action for the first time since 2018.
However, its momentum took a hit with the loss to St Kilda this past Saturday, and Hickey spoke about what was missing in his contest with Rowan Marshall.
“My follow-up work, and my competing around the contest, bringing energy around the contest, has been reasonable [throughout the year] and I probably let myself down on the weekend, in that regard,” Hickey said.
“Rowan Marshall, that’s sort of what he brings as well. He’s a really quality opposition, and Sammy Draper probably beat me around that area as well.
“I’ve had a big focus on sort of trying to bring more energy around the ball again and stay on my toes.”
The tasks do not get any easier this week for Hickey and the Swans, with North Melbourne and Todd Goldstein awaiting at Marvel Stadium off the back of some very solid form.
“They’ve put together a really solid back half of the year, and they’re really exciting, with heaps of energy, especially in their midfield, with [Luke Davies-]Uniacke, and [Jed] Anderson and the like,” Hickey said.
“They’ve just been really impressive, in the centre bounce especially, so we need to be at our best to match the way they play footy.”
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With finals secured, Sydney can fine-tune in the final two weeks ahead of September and Hickey says the group has a strong belief about what it can achieve when they get there.
“There always has been [belief] throughout this whole year,” he reflected.
“I remember at the start of the year we sat down and out of all the 18 AFL captains no one picked us to make the finals, and we kind of knew that to be a little weapon of ours, that we were quite underrated coming into the season.
“It’s really galvanised us and united us as a group. And being on the road has done that ten-fold, we’re such a united group and really enjoying it, enjoying playing our footy.
“And if we can keep winning and see how far we can go in the finals it’ll make all this travelling worth it.”
The challenges of the road
Much like last year, Sydney has been on the road for an extended period, and for Hickey and a lot of the Swans players there have been off-field challenges along the way, with a lot of time spent away from family.
During his time away from his family, Hickey pondered whether he should go home to be with his wife and his two-year-old son.
Hickey opened up on how the Swans advised him during this period.
“I felt like I had the club’s support through every decision I made, and I know the same was for Joey [Josh Kennedy] Buddy [Lance Franklin] and George [Hewett]- and all the staff who have children and families back home,” he said.
“John [Longmire] was incredible- I had a few chats with him and with Charlie [Gardner] and Tom [Harley] through it.
“The club as a whole was just incredible in dealing with us and making us feel that whatever decision we made was the right one.”
Hickey spoke about the relationship the team shares, which was invaluable during the period away from his family.
“It has been fun, it’s a really energetic group, we had nights where we played heaps of games of chess and Monopoly Deal gets played, Catan gets played, there’s pool and ping-pong and it’s been a really uniting experience for the group,” he said.
“I’ve loved getting to know a few of the boys a lot more, especially some of the younger ones, and also just doubling down on a few relationships that I’ve formed in the first 12 months at this footy club. I couldn’t be more happy and grateful to be part of this team.
“My 11th year has definitely been my favourite.”
Sydney and North Melbourne do battle at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
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