SCOTT Gowans will come up against former side North Melbourne for the first time as a senior coach on Sunday when Sydney takes on the Roos.
Gowans had an outstanding record as North Melbourne coach in 2019 and 2020, but lost his job in a COVID-induced restructure at the club.
"It's a little bit different. It's definitely a challenge for us, first of all, they're a great side. Clearly I keep an eye on them all the time, and I still talk to a few players there as well, which is nice," Gowans said.
"It's a little bit like you're playing your brother or your sister, you want to beat them.
"Clearly our journey this year is a little different (to North's), we just want to put in a good performance and see how we go against one of the competition's best sides."
Sydney kicked the first four goals in its expansion clash with fellow newbie Hawthorn, but were ultimately overrun late in the game and lost by four points. It was a tough blow for the fledgling side, who may now find it difficult to record a win this season.
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"We made a real focus in the team meeting to point out the fact that the stats that we won, the inside 50s, clearances, contested possession, all the things we focused on, and tried to take the story of how we played out (the game), rather than just the scoreboard," Gowans said.
"I said to the group that the important thing was if we had won that game, I would review the game exactly the same way to what we did on Tuesday night. That's important to stay true to what we're looking to do, rather than just focusing on the 'w's."
The Swans hosted Hawthorn in Melbourne as part of the Grand Final footy festival in the Yarra Park precinct on the Friday before the men's decider, and the club had decided to turn the week into a camp before the men's side qualified.
"We didn't get a chance to have a camp in pre-season, and it was really just a mini-camp in the middle of the season. It worked really well, and is something we'll look at doing next year as well," Gowans said.
"The main thing was the connection piece, you learn things about people when you just have coffees, go for a walk on the Yarra, and they were all bonuses that weren't a structured thing.
"We did do some structured things like education, we did a training session which was pretty much voluntary and was a skills session, but it was done during the day. That's just a different mindset, to train during the day.
"Then the other piece of course was the boys being in the Grand Final and the atmosphere that created. It was by fluke that was the same week, but it worked out really well and we got so much out of it."
Sydney averages the most free kicks against in the competition (20.4 per game), and Gowans said it was something that had been discussed internally.
"I think it's a balance between – when you're chasing more, you do tend to give away a few more free kicks. One of the other things is you try to coach intensity and effort, and if the balance is somewhere in between those two, we probably fall into the trap a little bit of being overzealous," he said.
"When you're struggling to get territory and inside 50s, we need to curb that a little bit. I don't want to curb the intensity and effort, but I do want to stop those silly free kicks from being given away.
"I felt on the weekend, again, it probably cost us a little bit. I'm not taking away anything from Hawthorn, but there were moments where we gave away free kicks in their forward line that really cost us. Extra holding, and things like that."