JARRAD McVeigh is almost certain to leave the Sydney Swans at the end of the year.
The former co-captain has confirmed his wish to play on and was again among Sydney’s best players in Friday night’s three-point win over ladder leaders Adelaide.
Since the Swans moved north to Sydney in 1982, every player to chalk up 200 games or more has finished their career in red and white.
McVeigh, 32, is just three games away from bringing up his triple century of games.
After Saturday’s round-23 clash with Carlton at the SCG he will need to play two finals to join Adam Goodes (372), Jude Bolton (325) and Michael O’Loughlin (303) in Sydney’s exclusive 300-game club.
Over the past month some of the greats of the modern era — Luke Hodge, Nick Riewoldt, Robert Murphy, Matthew Boyd and Jobe Watson — have announced their retirements as one-team players.
But McVeigh looks like following the trend set by Hawthorn and Geelong of premiership players such as Sam Mitchell (West Coast), Jordan Lewis (Melbourne), James Kelly (Essendon) and Steve Johnson (GWS) finishing their careers at other clubs.
Rebuilding and bottoming out is not an option for these successful clubs, which are opting to renovate on the run.
Geelong, Hawthorn and now Sydney believe the games taken up by experienced players at the end of their careers are better invested in the new talent which will take them forward.
Sydney have a host of young players with under 20 games of experience, including Jordan Dawson, Robbie Fox, Aliir Aliir, Ollie Florent, Jordan Foote, Harry Marsh and Dan Robinson.
One of the big challenges the Swans face in the immediate future is finding a replacement for McVeigh’s role as the quarterback of their defence.
His 84 per cent disposal efficiency is unmatched at the club and is driven by not only his skill level but his ability to read the play.
Sydney are not oversupplied with players who can kick at an elite level. He also remains a key leadership figure in the team despite being replaced, along with Kieren Jack, as captain by Josh Kennedy at the end of last year.
This was clearly evident in Friday night’s win over the Crows.
When Adelaide were dominating in the second and third terms he was keeping the ship together with his communication — and even went forward to kick a goal.
The local product will turn 33 in April and on form would be an attractive option for many clubs looking for an experienced mentor to possibly make the transition into coaching, such as Sam Mitchell plans to do at West Coast.