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- Sydney Swans prepare for bittersweet reunion with St Kilda pensioner Dan Hannebery
Sydney Swans prepare for bittersweet reunion with St Kilda pensioner Dan Hannebery
“He’s a champion, the ultimate teammate. That’s why I’m going there, because you just want to support guys like that, especially what he’s been through the last few years.
“There are several things about Dan: he is very energetic, super motivated and so competitive. Sometimes we had to tell him to just calm down because he was so determined to cheer himself up and get ready to play his best game, and he did that every week. Some players were so put off by him before the game that they had to spend time away from him, because he was just super, super hyperactive and manic about playing – that was him, and he was doing it under duress, time and again.
“You mix it all up in one personality, you get Dan Hannebery.”
Selected with the 30th pick in the 2008 draft, Hannebery was a 17-year-old schoolboy when he joined the Swans, and he wasted no time sewing himself into the fabric of the club and fitting into a locker room full of big names. who had just won the flag three years earlier.
“The way he did that was by working hard on the pitch, but just wanting to be a part of everything off the pitch with the playing group as well,” Jack said. “You just like people like that because it’s so authentic.”
Winner of the AFL Rising Star in 2010, he was the youngest and fastest Swan in history to reach 200 games. Ask anyone who worked with him in Sydney, and they say the same thing: Hannebery was one of the best, if not the best midfielder they’ve ever seen, and a player who would willingly put his body on the line to help. the team, no matter the personal cost. Each time, he got up and continued to work.
“In my mid-twenties, I put him up there as the most influential player in the game at that time,” Jack said. “When we were all talking about what two-way midfielders looked like, he was the epitome of it. He became the complete player and the complete package at a very young age.
There were classic examples of this tendency to put himself in harm’s way for the greater good in the two grand finals he played for Sydney. He helped set the tone in the decisive 2012 game against Hawthorn at the end of the first term by contorting his body to score between David Hale, Shane Mumford and Sam Reid – three great spirited key position players whose impact the left in a crumpled heap. Of course, he continued to play.
However, four years later, Hannebery twisted his knee late in their big final loss to the Western Bulldogs in a contest with Easton Wood. It looked bad, and it was – he did his medial ligament, but tied it and played the game under obvious duress.
Yet he was never quite the same. From then on, Hannebery’s battered body began to fail him. He left the Swans after a stop-start in 2017 as part of a draft pick trade with the Saints, and played just 17 more games at the top level, continually hampered by soft tissue injuries .
In another life, if things had turned out a little differently, Hannebery could still play for the Swans. But the outpouring of sentiment from former Sydney teammates, coaches and fans this week since his retirement announcement shows he left an indelible mark on his former employers and will forever hold a special place in the Swans story.
“She’s a beauty,” coach John Longmire told 3AW this week.
“I have great memories of some of the greatest games and he played so well. Sadly, no matter what he put into it – which would have been a huge amount, knowing Dan – his body didn’t give him any credit. given the chance to get in. I hope he doesn’t play too well this week against us, but he’s had an incredible career, especially with the Swans.