24 Jaunuary 1981
1999 National AFL Draft No. 56
2000 AFL Debut
2005 Sydney Premiership
2005 & 2006 International Rules Series
2006 Jim Stynes Medal
2006 Second Best and Fairest
2009 Winner, Sydney Best & Fairest2011
Rookie Draft Selection (Carlton), No.35
Ryan was recruited from Strathmore as a left footed defender and had an exceptional year at U18 level with the Calder Cannons, winning Best and Fairest honours. As a result of his outstanding U18 performances, Sydney used its fourth selection in the 1999 National Draft to recruit him. After a relatively innocuous start to his AFL career, O’Keefe has blossomed into one of the competition’s best small forwards.
O'Keefe managed 5 senior games in his debut year in 1999 and 13 in his second season including the 2001 elimination final against Hawthorn. Ryan was interrupted by injury in the first part of the 2002 season, but was fortunate enough to storm back into the senior side for the final 6 games of the year. He continued on from 2002, playing 16 games in 2003 and booting 17 goals.
It wasn’t until 2004 that Ryan emerged as a serious forward option for the Swans. During the 2004 season, Ryan played 24 senior games, kicked 33 goals, finished second highest at the Club in marks (124) and played a vital role in the Swans’ charge towards September. Ryan’s year was capped off with a fourth selection in the Club’s Best and Fairest and was also named the as the Swans most improved player.
Ryan continued his good form into the 2005 season, and was consistently named in the sides best players during the second half of the year. Ryan finished the season with 31 goals and 19 or more touches in nine games including a stellar performance in the preliminary final against St Kilda, steering the Swans to a Grand Final appearance. His efforts were rewarded with an Australian guernsey in the International Rules Series.
Ryan's hard running and hard work both around the goals and around the ground saw him have another consistent year in 2006, where he earned All-Australian Honours, won Jim Stynes Medal in the International Rules Series and was equal runner-up in the club's Best & Fairest.
2007 saw Ryan continue his fantastic form as he averaged 17 possessions per game and kicked 23 goals in as many games, finishing fifth in Sydney’s Best & Fairest.
Playing his 150th game during 2008, O’Keefe played many excellent games to enhance his reputation as one of the best running forwards in the AFL. A long left-foot kick, Ryan finished fifth in the club’s Best & Fairest Award.
Ryan had a slow start to the 2009 season, but after moving into a midfield role, O’Keefe performed strongly throughout the season and was rewarded by being selected as the Bob Skilton Medalist for the season, with a total of 528 points.
The 2010 season saw Ryan play all 23 games, including the collection of 33 disposals versus St Kilda in the opening round, highlighting his experience and prominent role in the senior side. O’Keefe continues to consistently play a high possession game and provide Sydney with another option up forward and has certainly become one of the games most damaging players, particularly around the goals.
After showing signs of promise with his run and penetrating left-foot kick off half back in the games he played in the VFL, Rhys was delisted by the Blues at the end of the 2010 season. The Club however, threw him a life-line, taking him with pick 35 in the Rookie Draft, allowing Rhys to increase his fitness and have another crack at playing AFL football.