Harding has young Swans flying high
Greg Harding. Pic: WA News

Swan Districts president Peter Hodyl says an underrated Greg Harding has proved he is one of the best coaches in the WAFL, just six rounds into the season.

The cash-strapped club raised eyebrows in February by extending Harding's contract as senior coach for an extra year until the end of 2015.

The bold decision was made despite an exodus of senior players and external expectations that Swans would finish the season with the wooden spoon.

The contract extension has since been emphatically endorsed by the club's on-field performances, with the black and whites confounding their critics to storm to second spot and a 4-1 win-loss record under Harding's leadership.

Swans will face league leaders Subiaco at Medibank Stadium tomorrow in their sternest test of the season.

The clash will hold added significance given the decision of Shaun Hildebrandt and Wayde Twomey to leave Steel Blue Oval to join the Lions during the pre-season.

Hodyl said Harding deserved credit for the results achieved with a young group so far this year.

"When you've got a lot more spread of youth in the team, your coach can actually coach," Hodyl said.

"He's not trying to reinvent someone's pre-existing way of playing a game. When you've got young kids who are listening, they're keen to learn.

"Then obviously when you've got the experience and you know what you're doing, then things are going to happen. When you've got some players that are fairly set in their ways as such, it's a bit hard to change that.

"He's able to mould these kids and that goes to show how good he is because these boys are playing really, really good football."

Harding is in his fourth season as league coach at Swans and has a 54 per cent winning record.

The club has missed the finals just once under his tenure, slumping to second last coming off its 2010 premiership.

Hodyl said the progress and form shown by some of the young Swans had surprised even those within the club and demonstrated Harding's knack for developing talent.

Seven-gamer Ricky Cary is leading the league's goal kicking with 18.

Connor Blakely, Aidan Anderson and Blaine Boekhorst are developing into regular league players.

"We always thought that Greg was the right fit for the new young group coming through," Hodyl said.

"The results that are happening at the moment are outstanding. It's exciting for Greg, for sure."

He's able to mould these kids and that goes to show how good he is …"" *Peter Hodyl *

The West Australian

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