Swans captain says ‘unbelievable’ to be back on field
RUNNING onto Lyle Vidler oval wearing a Swans guernsey for the first time in two years was an "unbelievable" feeling for captain Kyle Hope.
After not fielding a mens adult team for the 2019 season, the new and improved Swans side were keen to take to paddock again, made up of returning players and rookies from other codes.
Hope said the feeling of putting the Swans guernsey back on after a lengthy hiatus was something he hadn't expected to feel this year.
"It was an unbelievable feeling, really," he said.
"I didn't think we'd be playing at all this year again and then to have so many boys walk up and put a team together was great."
The Swans took on the South Burnett Saints for the first game of the 2020 season in Kingaroy.
Hope believes it was the Saints' experience, and the presence of many long-term, committed players that helped them seal the win over the newly-formed Swans side.
"It was a pretty tough game," he said.
"It was some very scrappy footy to begin with.
"We didn't get the win but it was good to be playing footy with all the new faces in the side, it was good to just be playing together again."
South Burnett defeated the Swans 11.16-82 to 7.6-48, but for the Swans the first game of the season was more about gelling together as a team playing all together for the first time.
This is a sentiment Hope said the team will be carrying throughout the remainder of the season.
"We'll really just focus this year on getting everyone in touch with each other and really just focusing on playing as one team," he said.
"Once we progress from there we can really start focusing on how we want to play our brand of footy and how we want our tactics to play out and what works and what doesn't."
The Saints side featured a number of new players who had come across rugby league and union after the suspension of their seasons.
"I was really proud of everyone, even the older guys who are playing again," Hope said. "Everyone worked together really well.
"We haven't had much of an opportunity to train but it was really good."
Hope said South Burnett gave the team a run for their money, and with more experience behind them were able to seal the win over the Dalby side.
"Any country team is hard to play against, they like the tough sort of gritty footy where you're fighting for everything you get," he said.
"They've played together for a few years now and they've really gelled together as a team.
"Any team who has the luck of the draw of having blokes who stay around for a few years are always going to be strong and hard to play against."
Best on ground went to Jake Schreiber, who was also picked for best on by the Saints.
Top performances for the day also went to Daniel Braxton, Max Reilly, Joseph Stephen, Joe McVeigh, Lythaniel King-Togia, Dylan Taylor and Mitch Taylor.
Following a bye this weekend, the Swans will be taking on Goondiwindi on home soil.
"We're hoping to have a big crowd," Hope said.
"Playing footy on home soil again will be awesome.
"Missing all of last year and really struggling the year before it wasn't great, but we've got a lot of good numbers now and it'll be really good to play in front of a home crowd against another really good country team.
"Gundy are going to throw everything at us so it's going to be a tough one."