Sydney Swans captain Josh Kennedy.
Sydney Swans captain Josh Kennedy. Michael Dodge

Bulldogs remain Swans' measuring stick for 2017

THE Western Bulldogs - and not cross-town rival GWS - remain the AFL benchmark in Sydney's eyes as the Swans bid to erase the hurt of grand final defeat.

Sydney captain Josh Kennedy says the Swans are not motivated by the failure to convert the 2016 minor premiership into ultimate success, but they are determined to close the gap to the Dogs.

TAB has GWS a $4.50 favourite to win this season's flag ahead of the Bulldogs ($6) and Sydney ($7.50), but Kennedy insists Luke Beveridge's men are the measuring stick.

"In our eyes they are," he said.

"On the day (grand final), they were able to do it for a bit longer and we've got to make sure we can go for a bit longer this year.

"For us, there's no greater expectation than the one we put on ourselves and we've been up there, thereabouts, for the last couple of years and for the playing group, the measure of success is that we want to be up there holding the cup at the end of September.

"It's not a matter of pass or fail. It's what we want to do and we believe we can if we commit ourselves and play to the best we can."

Sydney lost both its clashes to the Dogs last season but Kennedy says Sydney is not haunted, or driven, by its 22-point grand final loss to the rampant Bulldogs.

"I think you will never ever forget it - however, it's not a driving factor, because you can't change it," he said.

"You're not out here to make redemption because we can't get it back.

"It's just that little extra bit that we've got to find so the main driving factor for us this year is the excitement and opportunity to try and get there and go one better.

"That's really the crux of it.

"It's a feeling of excitement; I think, not unlike most clubs this year, a bit of unknown.

"We're really looking forward to getting into the season, seeing where we're at, seeing where we've improved over the pre-season and having a crack."

Kennedy said John Longmire's "second-tier" players would be crucial to Sydney's success ahead of the round one clash with Port Adelaide at the SCG.

"Last year, I think we debuted six players throughout the course of the year," Kennedy said.

"We're really looking for improvement from our second-tier, younger players.

"Hopefully they can take the next step up and it looks like a few of them have, which is fantastic.

"We've just got to improve the development in those guys in the crux of our game, which is consistent footy (and) defence, which is still as strong as it was last year and in years previous."

Leo Schlink