Collingwood star Dane Swan has hit back hard at critics of his nonchalant playing style with a promise to do "everything in my power" to lead his team to victory in tonight’s preliminary final against Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
After kicking a goal in the Anzac Day match against Essendon in April, Swan rubbed his stomach to mock those who claimed he was carrying too much weight. He also joked that his emotional response to a match-sealing goal against West Coast last Saturday night had come because it was a rare success with a snap-shot.
"I wasn’t so excited about winning, I was excited that I kicked a snap-goal," he said.
But the 2011 Brownlow Medallist was deadly serious when talking about the chance tonight to win the right to play in the grand final for a third consecutive season.
"Just because people think I run around looking like I don’t care, when we get to the pointy end, I play footy to win premierships, mate," Swan said.
"It’s something I do care a lot about and it was a little bit of emotion flowing out in a tight game. This week means the opportunity to play in a grand final and that means everything to me.
"It’s what we play for, mate. We’ve played in three grand finals in the last two years and I know what it means to win one and I know what it means to lose one.
"Just to get there, the whole week and the build-up is just phenomenal and it’s something that I want to be a part of every year. For another opportunity to come though and to maybe have the opportunity to play in another grand final is something I hold very dear because I know they don’t come around too often.
"When we get these opportunities, we’ve got to make the most of them and I’ll be doing everything in my power to try and get us over the line. It can’t come quick enough."
Swan, 28, made headlines earlier in the year when he said he intended to retire when his current Collingwood contract expired at the end of the 2014 season.
He then made more headlines for different reasons when he was suspended by the Magpies in August for two matches for drinking alcohol against team rules and turning up to training in unsatisfactory condition.
But after this week being rewarded with his fourth All-Australian selection, the three-time club best-and-fairest laughed off recent criticism that he was possession-hungry, explaining that to win the ball was what he was paid handsomely to do.
He claimed he had been happy with his form for most of the season, despite his off-field indiscretion.
"I’ve been reasonably consistent, with a few low points," he said.
"But all-in-all, if we win in the next two weeks, all will be forgotten about. I’ve had my ups and downs, but when I’ve been out on the ground I think I’ve been reasonably consistent."