Sydney’s breakout star Chad Warner believes the Swans were “overwhelmed” in the grand final spotlight but remains excited about the future.
Warner and defender Robbie Fox were Sydney’s best players on a bitterly disappointing day that saw its nine-match winning streak come to a screeching halt in an 81-point thumping to Geelong.
The 21-year-old dasher finished with 29 disposals, two goals, 18 contested possessions, 10 clearances and six score involvements to cap his arrival as one of the AFL’s most promising talents.
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He never stopped trying, even once the result was well beyond doubt, and his willingness to take risks helped create several of the Swans’ limited scoring chances.
But Sydney as a whole never recovered from the six-goal black eye the Cats landed in a devastating first quarter that as good as ended the match as a contest.
Warner was visibly emotional in the immediate aftermath, with Lance Franklin among those trying to comfort him, as he watched Geelong revelling in the moment he dreamt about.
“We were really confident and I don’t know whether it was the occasion or we just thought it would happen but something obviously went wrong out there,” he said.
“I think we got overwhelmed as well at one point and just couldn’t contain it.
“It’s hard after the game. I was just absolutely cooked. I feel like I tried as hard as I could, which is annoying in itself as well, knowing you’ve done everything and they still pump you by 80 points.”
Warner, who was short-listed for All-Australian honours this year, is proud of what he and Sydney achieved, aside from Saturday’s horror show, but is already counting down the days for redemption.
“We could have done a lot more and I think that’s probably the annoying part, but we have to wait a whole ‘nother year to have another crack,” he said.
“It was most boys’ first crack at it – mine as well – and all we can do is take experience out of it and make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“Hopefully, we can do the same next year and maybe be a bit better and get the win on September 24.”