“Pretty impressive. I wasn’t there, but he was with about four other blokes, so he couldn’t be lying because they all admitted it as well.”
Warner didn’t play in the derby, but whatever good fortune possessed his driver that day followed his teammates onto Optus Stadium as they produced arguably the most complete performance of John Longmire’s ongoing rebuild.
Blakey was spectacular, gathering 18 touches, two clearances and two goals in his first stint as an inside midfielder at AFL level. Rested from last week’s narrow loss to Collingwood, Blakey played in the midfield in a scratch match against the Magpies’ seconds, proving to himself he could do it.
“Early in the week, Macca [assistant coach Jarrad McVeigh] and Horse said, ‘how do you reckon you’d go playing inside at AFL?’ They just threw it to me and gave me the opportunity and I really loved it,” he said.
Earmarked as a high-potential key forward, Blakey’s ability to play not only in attack but on the wing and now at the midfield coalface gives both him and the Swans some handy versatility.
It was just the fourth win of the year for Sydney, with finals still mathematically possible but realistically unattainable. But with stars such as Isaac Heeney, Josh Kennedy, Lance Franklin, Aliir Aliir and George Hewett out injured, Blakey said there was no reason to think the Swans can’t contend once those names are back in the 22.
“The leaders, Joey Kennedy and Bud and all the older boys, have been really clear – we’re not far off. Horse says, ‘why not now?’ We all believe that,” he said.
“This group and the boys we have playing can take this place to a really successful part of the Swans’ club [history]. We’ve obviously got a lot of work to do and we’re really clear on that. It might not be next year but in the near future, we’ll be right up there.
“To beat a quality team in the Giants, who’ve got stars on every part of the field … it gives Dylan Stephens, Zac Foot, James Bell, myself, all the young boys a lot of confidence that we can really match it with the older boys and the better teams. Everyone’s really excited about where this group can take us.”
The Swans have a 10-day break until their next game against Fremantle, before a tricky trip to Adelaide Oval to face ladder leaders Port Adelaide.
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.