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Lofty task for Mumford’s milestone

SwansTV: Mumford press conference: PF week Swans ruckman Shane Mumford spoke to the media ahead of our preliminary final against Fremantle
Shane Mumford of the Swans climbs high for the ball during the 2013 AFL round 08 match between the Sydney Swans and the Fremantle Dockers at the SCG, Sydney on May 18, 2013. (Photo: Craig Golding/AFL Media)
Shane Mumford will play his 100th game in Saturday's preliminary final
As a 21-year-old, ruckman Shane Mumford was thrown in the deep end in his first game for Geelong, charged with the monumental task of tackling Fremantle giant Aaron Sandilands in a combination with fellow Cat, Mark Blake.

Fast forward 99 games, and Mumford will celebrate game-100 by taking on the same man he describes as the best ruckman in the competition.

The 27-year-old, now in his fourth season at the Sydney Swans, will team up with Mike Pyke to try and counteract the 211 centimetre, 120 kilogram Docker in Saturday evening’s preliminary final at Perth’s Patersons Stadium.

Mumford said it was Sandilands’ lofty stature and bulk that makes him so hard to compete with.

“In the ruck, by far he’s the toughest to beat,” Mumford told media on Tuesday.

“He can almost stand there in the middle and not even jump and beat you sometimes.

“Ruck-work-wise I think he would be (the best in the competition) but blokes like Dean Cox and other guys who move around the ground really well probably get you more around the ground.”

With Mumford giving up both height and weight to the Fremantle big man, the Swans ruckman said he hoped to use his athleticism to get on top in this weekend’s final, in what will be the first time he’s faced Sandilands in the red and white.

“He’s got me by about 12cm and about 15kg (on me), so for me to move him, it’s a pretty tough thing to do, but we’re really looking forward to the challenge,” Mumford said.

“The best way of doing it is to try and get their a bit earlier and hit him early to get him off the line, but like I said it’s a pretty tough thing to do when he’s weighing 15kg more than me.

“I’ll be trying to work him around the ground and make him chase me, and I think I’ve got a little bit of a better tank than he does.”

Mumford won’t be doing it alone this weekend and will work in tandem with Pyke, who he says is in career best form.

“Pyke was probably unlucky not to make All-Australian,” Mumford said.

“His first half of the year was sensational and I think the partnership we’ve formed now is probably one of the tougher ones in the league.

“Credit to him and the way he goes about his footy and he’s always in there looking at ways to improve and everything, so it’s no real shock that he’s taken the leaps and bounds forward that he has.”

After a slow start to the 2013 season, Mumford, feels he is now finding some consistent form.

After being subbed out of the Swans’ qualifying final loss to Hawthorn a fortnight ago, Mumford said he felt confident heading into this weekend’s game following a strong performance against the Blues last week.

“I probably wasn’t playing the footy that I would have liked to have played, but I think I might be starting to finally find some form after the weekend’s game and a couple of weeks prior, minus the Hawthorn game where I went missing,” Mumford said.

“Obviously I’m feeling really good about this week and the body is feeling fresh, so it’s always good to go into a game feeling good.”

Despite playing extra minutes in Saturday’s win over Carlton as a result of injuries to Kurt Tippett and Tom Mitchell, Mumford said he didn’t believe he or his team mates would suffer from fatigue in Saturday’s preliminary final.

“Anything can happen in a prelim,” he said.

“It’s a big game and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve had the weekend off or you  played a hard game of footy, you’re going to be doing everything you can to get yourself right and to get yourself up for that game, and I’m sure we’ll all be going in at 100 per cent and giving our all.”