Tackles trump goals for new Swans forward

New Sydney goalsneak Tom Papley is more concerned about tallying tackles than goals after capping an extraordinary rise with an eye-catching AFL debut.


The 19-year-old apprentice plumber may not have to worry about pursuing that particular trade based on his performance against Collingwood on Saturday night.

Overlooked in the 2015 national draft, Papley was picked up in the rookie draft and elevated to the senior list just two days before Saturday’s 80-point thrashing of the Magpies in the Swans’ season opener.

He kicked 3.1 and notched five marks and the same amount of tackles.

Listed at 17cm and 71kg, small forward Papley showed good crumbing instincts but insisted it’s the defensive side of game that’s more important.

“That’s what I work on the most,” Papley said.

“If I’m going to play in this side it’s what I’m going to play for, not to kick goals, just defensive pressure.

“If I have five kicks and 10 tackles, then I’m happy with that and no goals.”

Even Sydney coach John Longmire expressed some surprise at the speed of Papley’s rise through the ranks.

“We would not have thought when we recruited him, that he would come out and kick three and be as effective as early as what he was,” Longmire said.

“But he’s had a good pre-season and the coaches have worked really hard with him and worked on some of the areas that he needed to work on.”

Papley, both of whose grandfathers played for South Melbourne, paid tribute to the club’s staff for getting him into AFL shape so quickly.

“It’s a bit of a surprise, but if you work hard, things can come,” Papley said.

Sydney midfield dynamo Luke Parker compared Papley to Hawthorn’s triple premiership-winning forward Paul Puopolo.

“His little legs just get going and they don’t stop all game,” Parker told the Seven Network’s AFL Game Day.

“He just hits the crumb at pace and times it really nicely and gets on the end of a few and his pressure is outstanding.”

Papley was part of a young Swans side, 11 of which had played under 50 senior games and contained no-one over 29 years old.

The Swans’ youthful forward line was well marshalled by Lance Franklin, who kicked four goals in his first AFL game since it was revealed he was suffering from a mental health issue.

“He was terrific with our younger kids in the front half,” Longmire said.

Longmire said Ben McGlynn and Ted Richards could come into selection consideration for next weeks’s game against Carlton after playing in the reserves.