‘I find the criticisms a little unfair to be honest’: Swans academy hits back

Steve Taubert in his time as the ruck coach of the Sydney Swans. Photo: sydneyswans.com.au

Former Swans ruck coach Steve Taubert has hit back at criticism toward the Sydney Academy system.

Taubert retired from his long-serving assistant coaching role at the end of 2017, taking up a position with the academy instead.

Comments have arisen around the level of talent the Swans are gaining from the academy after receiving three NAB Rising Star nominations to start the 2021 season.

With Errol Gulden, Braeden Campbell and Chad Warner all getting the nod, Taubert believes some comments are undermining the amount of work the Swans have put in.

“I’ve seen and heard those criticisms,” he told Yarra Valley FM.

“I don’t hold them as being correct.

“You’ve got to remember for years and years the AFL clubs up north and the Swans have come from non-AFL states. In 12 years, there’s been nearly 3000 boys go through [the academy].

“I think it’s an unfair criticism, it comes at a massive expense to the Swans as well as the AFL, it’s a shared cost. I think that the players we’re seeing now are a product of the system continuing to be strengthened and working.

“It’s been a long time coming, there’s been a lot of years where there’s been a lot of money spent and we haven’t seen any players come through, but that’s changing now.”

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The Sydney Swans Academy was established in 2010, designed to develop players from New South Wales who might not gain the same opportunities as those from more football centric states.

Taubert believes that critics have forgotten the struggles that Aussie rules has faced in Sydney.

“We come from a non-AFL state, so these boys have to identified,” he said.

“They pay a considerable amount of money, the families do, and they join at almost 12. It takes a huge cost, a huge amount of patience. The football available to them hasn’t been as strong as in AFL-playing states.

“There was a while during my time at the Swans where AFL football was banned in schools. We’ve been through all that, so the fact that we’re now starting to show a few fruits is great for the club.”

While Gulden and Campbell hail from this year’s crop of draftees, the Swans Academy has already had a period of success.

Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Nick Blakey and Sam Wicks have additionally come through the academy system.

“It’s taken a long, long time to bear any consistent fruits, and it’ll only get stronger,” Taubert said.

“We’re in big competition with the other footballing codes here, so it should be applauded that the AFL and the Swans stuck with this program over the years. It’s a long time to only get 11 players.

“A lot of time and effort, a lot of clinics, a lot of coaching. There’s 12 of us that work in the academy, there’s a few guys that work full time in Nick Davis and Jared Crouch. If you add the girls [academy] to that now it’s an even bigger organisation.

“People are jumping on the criticisms now but I don’t want to hear one bit of it, I know what it’s been like for years.

“It’s a very, very good club that has a culture that you become a part of, it’s undeniable.”

Sydney will face-off against Essendon on Thursday night in its bid to remain undefeated in season 2021.

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