February 8, 2023
Dylan Stephens has cemented his spot within the Swans’ senior facet after struggling for alternatives earlier within the 12 months. Image: Getty Photos

Sydney winger Dylan Stephens is brutally trustworthy about how his season – and doubtlessly profession – circled mid-year.

Dropped after “one poor sport” in spherical 3, a pissed off Stephens was nonetheless caught within the VFL when the Swans misplaced to Port Adelaide 11 rounds later.

The prized No.5 decide within the loaded 2019 AFL draft had performed solely 18 senior matches greater than midway by way of his third season, 9 months after re-signing regardless of curiosity in him from Collingwood, Adelaide and Essendon.

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Coach John Longmire’s suggestions was easy and direct: Stephens had to enhance defensively if he anticipated to play in Sydney’s senior facet.

Stephens additionally admits he typically was responsible of evaluating his progress with draft friends resembling Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Luke Jackson, Lachie Ash, Hayden Younger and Caleb Serong.

Dylan Stephens relished the possibility to play in a high-stakes last. Image: Getty Photos

Then got here a stroke of luck, not less than from the 21-year-old’s perspective.

Justin McInerney and Harry Cunningham entered the AFL’s Covid protocols and couldn’t play the subsequent week, on prime of Colin O’Riordan being unavailable by way of damage.

Stephens’ probability had arrived. If the Swans’ disappointing efficiency towards Essendon just a few weeks later proved a turning level, this match was additionally necessary from a variety viewpoint.

Ryan Clarke, Robbie Fox and Tom Hickey had been additionally among the many Swans’ inclusions that spherical.

All of them, together with Stephens, performed within the membership’s rousing qualifying last victory over reigning premier Melbourne on the MCG.

“To be trustworthy, at that time limit, I wasn’t enjoying excellent footy in any respect within the VFL, so I believe, for me, in that state of affairs, it was only a little bit of luck,” Stephens instructed Information Corp.

Dylan Stephens hasn’t always had it easy since arriving at the Swans as a high draft pick. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Dylan Stephens hasn’t all the time had it simple since arriving on the Swans as a excessive draft decide. Image: Phil Hillyard

“Ever since that day – after I lastly got here in – I’ve simply made (the defensive facet) a spotlight of mine; to simply play my function in addition to I can up and down the wing, working arduous, then getting after the opposition as nicely.

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“The massive factor is once you get your alternative, it’s a must to take it with each arms. I used to be fortunate sufficient to try this over the subsequent few weeks, then construct from there. Now it’s paying off, so I’m actually comfortable.”

The Crows, one in all his most ardent commerce suitors and eager since his draft 12 months, watched Mildura-raised Stephens collect a career-most 25 disposals, kick a purpose and lay six tackles at their expense in his fifth sport again.

However regardless of the hypothesis about his future, he by no means even acquired to the purpose of assembly with one other membership.

“It was too early for me to simply hand over on it. You type of look again on it now and suppose what determination it was for me,” Stephens stated.

Dylan Stephens, pictured right with Tom Papley, is glad he stuck it out at the Swans despite several Victorian clubs trying to prise him out of the club last year. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Dylan Stephens, pictured proper with Tom Papley, is glad he caught it out on the Swans regardless of a number of Victorian golf equipment attempting to prise him out of the membership final 12 months. Image: Phil Hillyard

“It was the most effective factor – I believe morally as nicely – to stay it out and battle for my spot. We had been facet, so it wasn’t resulting from us enjoying poorly and me simply not getting a run.”

Stephens has additionally shaped sturdy relationships with a number of teammates.

He lives in a five-bedroom home in Maroubra with the Warner brothers, Chad and Corey, in addition to Logan McDonald and mid-season draftee Hugo Corridor-Kahan.

That’s partly why the qualifying last outcome meant a lot to Stephens.

“It was a fairly unreal evening, to be trustworthy, and it didn’t actually sink in for a bit that we’d acquired right into a prelim,” he stated.

“As quickly as we gained, I bear in mind me, Chad and Errol (Gulden) – we’re fairly shut mates – had been all simply hugging and we held onto that hug for a few minute, I reckon.

Dylan Stephens can’t wait to play Collingwood in Saturday’s preliminary final at the SCG. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Dylan Stephens can’t wait to play Collingwood in Saturday’s preliminary last on the SCG. Image: Phil Hillyard

“It was simply an superior second and superior evening total – and I’m eager to go once more.”

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Two days later, Stephens was introduced with the right alternative to mirror on how far he had come previously couple of months, when he ventured out to Blacktown to help Sydney’s VFL facet in its semi-final.

“The final time I used to be out at Blacktown; I used to be enjoying VFL and miles off enjoying AFL,” Stephens stated.

“I used to be out of the facet for 10 weeks and it was fairly powerful, so when you instructed me I used to be going to be enjoying in a last and locking myself in for a preliminary last, I might have stated you’re kidding your self.

“It’s a bit surreal, actually, and I can’t imagine it. It’s necessary I acquired that have; simply to study to be actually grateful and never take something without any consideration, notably with the scenario I’m in proper now.”

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