McVeigh to join Swans' elite 300 club

When Jarrad McVeigh reported to training in late 2002, Paul Roos knew he had a 200-game player. The former Sydney coach underestimated his man.

The veteran Swan joins rare company on Friday night when he becomes only the fourth man to play 300 games in the red and the white.

He will be in exalted company but, as a two-time club champion and premiership captain, should not feel out of place alongside Adam Goodes, Michael O'Loughlin and Jude Bolton.

McVeigh is the sole player left from when the club's famous Bloods culture was established in the early 2000s. For a player who has embodied that ethos for so long, it's hard to believe there was a stage when he was out of favour.

Like all elite young talent, there were never queries about what the No.5 pick from the 2002 draft could do with the ball. It's what he did not do when he did not have it that needed work.

???"The Swans value the defensive side of the game so much, still do, always have for 15-20 years," Roos said. "That's the biggest challenge for a kid coming into the system. They're all talented ball-winners, they come out of a system that doesn't teach transition from offence to defence."

Roos remembers McVeigh, who did not play a game in his first season and missed the 2005 premiership, being frustrated at his inability to break into the side. McVeigh cut his teeth as a tagger but has since made a name as a midfielder, rebounding defender and forward with smart goal sense.

When Roos finished coaching at Melbourne last year, he received a text from his former charge.

"Thanks for teaching me the right way to play," Roos recalled. "That was really good to hear. He learned a lot in the first couple of years."

O'Loughlin had heard the whispers about McVeigh when he was drafted and was not disappointed when they hit the track.

"In terms of decision-making, the skill at AFL level, he was head and shoulders above everyone else," O'Loughlin said. "One of his other big strengths was he was able to read the play. He seemed a step or two ahead of everyone else."

At a club renowned for its defence and pressure, McVeigh's kicking has proven invaluable. Even at 32, he remains one of the Swans' best kicks, rivalled only by Lance Franklin.

"He's a calm ball user," Bolton said. "He's clear-headed when he has the ball in hand and doesn't want to waste it.

"Having that calming influence behind the footy, that's why you see Jake Lloyd come in and play so well. He's had a terrific couple of years but having someone like Jarrad next to him who has the intestinal fortitude to take the kick up the middle helps."

Coach John Longmire spoke glowingly this week of McVeigh, saying he could not have wished for a better person to help him at the start of his coaching career. The pair lifted the 2012 premiership cup together and will share a coaches box when McVeigh hangs up the boots, most likely at the end of next year.

"He's had some real challenges in his life and to be able to get to this point playing 300 games is a fantastic and well-deserved achievement," Longmire said.

All at the Swans have also admired McVeigh for his courage off the field after he and wife Clementine lost their first child, Luella, in 2011. Clementine gave birth to their third daughter Florence on Tuesday.

"He's an incredible father, friend as well as an amazing man," Bolton said.

This story McVeigh to join Swans' elite 300 club first appeared on Brisbane Times.