Kennedy comes full circle in AFL milestone

Callum Godde
Josh Kennedy (l) will play his 250th AFL game when the Swans clash with the Western Bulldogs

Through the ebbs and flows, AFL milestone man Josh Kennedy has been an inter-generational beacon for the Sydney Swans.

Thursday night's clash with the Western Bulldogs marks the Sydney co-captain's 250th AFL game.

He hasn't wasted many of them since arriving from Hawthorn in the 2009 trade period along with former Hawk Ben McGlynn for the paltry price of picks 39, 46 and 70.

In 236 appearances for the Swans, Kennedy was an instrumental figure in their 2012 premiership, won three All-Australian honours and club best-and-fairests and rose to the captaincy in 2017.

But the hard-bodied midfielder's influence can't strictly be measured in his innumerable accolades.

Having served at his alter, fellow co-captain Luke Parker counts Kennedy as one of his main mentors after landing in the Harbour City as a fresh-faced teenager from Victoria.

"He was about 23 or so when I came here as an 18-year-old and he was just coming into the start of his explosion as an incredible player," Parker told AAP on Wednesday.

"He's a player that has stood up so many times in big games over the years and his mindset is as composed as anyone going into those games.

"Now being a co-captain alongside him, I've been able to learn from him at that leadership level as well."

The eagle-eyed Swans spied a diamond in the rough as the Hawthorn father-son recruit struggled to cement a regular spot, managing just 13 games in his first three seasons.

But Kennedy's journey from underappreciated talent to out-and-out star wouldn't have been possible without the assistance of another club legend.

"We saw the opportunity for him maybe, at some stage, to take over from Jude Bolton as an inside midfielder," coach John Longmire said.

"Jude really helped him when he first started here and then they were able to transition that period really smoothly, as far as Jude went to half-forward and Josh played a bit more inside mid."

Kennedy's career has now come full circle, with the responsibility of mentoring the AFL's second-youngest list predominately falling on his shoulders.

"When I came in I was the young guy and working with Jude Bolton and Ryan O'Keefe and Joey (Kennedy) and Hanners (Daniel Hannebery)," Parker said.

"Josh and I have lost that group that I came through learning from.

"I guess now it's our turn to take over that next group and lead the way, and he's been instrumental helping me provide some learnings for the next generation."

Averaging almost 24 games a season over the past nine years, Longmire hailed the 32-year-old's durability and appetite for big games having starred in the 2012 and 2016 deciders.

"He'll go down, whenever he finishes up, as not only one of the club's greats but one of the all-time greats," said Longmire.

"His record is extraordinary. Not only his consistency from week to week over a long period of time but also how he's got the ability to rise to the biggest occasions.

"Some of his best performances have been in finals games and grand finals, when the heat's absolutely at it's best."