PIVOTAL PLAYER: Swifts five-eighth Josh Cleeland is setting the standard for his team in training and games.
PIVOTAL PLAYER: Swifts five-eighth Josh Cleeland is setting the standard for his team in training and games. Claudia Baxter

Josh committed to helping Swifts rise

AFTER their third straight loss last weekend, Swifts coach Lee Addison vowed to crack down on non-trainers.

Swifts surprised many by losing just one of their first seven games this season.

But in the past month standards have slipped both on the field and the training paddock, forcing Addison to declare after defeat to Goodna that those who did not train would not play.

When players don't train it has a compounding negative effect on the team.

Combinations get rusty, fitness levels slip and those who do train start to resent those who don't.

If Swifts had a few more Josh Cleelands in the side they may not have lost their past three games.

The five-eighth showed against Goodna last weekend the strength he uses to brush off defenders himself. He can also put others through gaps and has an astute kicking game.

It is no surprise that when he didn't play against Norths due to injury recently his team looked toothless.

Cleeland has been his team's most consistent attacking threat this season and his performance on the field is reflected in his commitment to training.

Swifts are lucky to have the services of the 21-year-old scaffolders from Coalfalls.

A West End junior of 11 years, Cleeland was playing with the Ipswich Jets Colts in 2011 when he injured his knee, requiring a full reconstruction.

That wiped out his 2012.

This season he decided to join Swifts, because two of his cousins were Bluebirds.

Not any more however, with one joining Brothers this season and the other not playing footy any more.

But Cleeland has not regretted his decision.

"The players around you are good to play with," he said.

"I don't feel I'm at my best yet.

"I've got a long way to go."

It is part of the reason he tries to get as much as he can from training with Swifts and why he is so disappointed when only a handful turn up.

"They're not getting into it," he said.

"As soon as they start coming back we'll be okay.

"I reckon we'll make finals.

"We've go the team to do it.

"It's just training.

"You play how you train.

"So if no one is turning up to training you're going to struggle.

"Training's where the effort is.

"We've got the skills there; we've just got to do it."

With only eight showing on Tuesday night the Swifts team that takes the field on Sunday against Fassifern at Llewellyn Motors Field will be interesting to behold.

But Cleeland, for one, is happy to back a hard-line stance from the coach on non-trainers.

"Hopefully it shows everyone who wants a spot that they have to turn up," he said.

Cleeland's training ethic is not just about seeing Swifts improve.

He views every opportunity on the training paddock as a chance to get one step closer to his goal of making it to the big time.

Cleeland wants to work his way back into the Jets ranks and go on from there.

Addison believes he can do it.

"I'm hoping to go there next year if I'm fit and ready enough," he said.

"I just want to try and make it up there ands see how far I can go.

"Every week at training is a centimetre closer."



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