Deliver your Melican brief
Daily Telegraph, April 21
THE Sydney Swans have taken a massive gamble ahead of their do-or-die derby against GWS, with key defender Lewis Melican becoming their sixth debutant this year and their 13th in the last 13 months.
The Swans will welcome back Kurt Tippett, Isaac Heeney and Gary Rohan from injury for Saturday night’s Sydney Derby XII, while Jarrad McVeigh (calf) has been given another week.
While those inclusions were expected, coach John Longmire’s decision to blood Melican comes as a big surprise.
The former Geelong Falcon has been brought in to deal with the Giants’ triple tall threat of Jeremy Cameron, Rory Lobb and Jonathon Patton.
The 20-year-old has had a shocking run with injury after the Swans took him with pick No.52 in the 2015 rookie draft. A fractured pelvis cost him 15 games in his first season and hamstring troubles kept him sidelined for another seven last year.
Much of that time was spent alongside fellow defender Alex Johnson who is close to returning after undergoing 12 knee surgeries since his last game five years ago.
“He’s an inspiration,” Melican told The Daily Telegraph.
Don't write Swans off just yet: Dermie
Daily Telegraph, April 21
THE Swans are on the cusp of going 0-5 should they lose to GWS on Saturday night but Hawthorn great Dermott Brereton says you would be a fool to right off the red and whites.
Of the 24 teams which started the year 0-4 since 2000, none have gone on to make the finals. In the last 50 years only North Melbourne’s 1975 premiership team have achieved the feat.
As grim as the figures look for Sydney, Brereton believes they can still be a force in September.
“Their season is recoverable,” Brereton told the Daily Telegraph.
“The numbers told us no one would ever win it from seventh but look at what the Bulldogs did. Sydney have so many good players you throw the number theory out.”
Brereton believes the Swans’ cause will be helped enormously by the return from injury of stars Isaac Heeney, Kurt Tippett and Gary Rohan.
Mills still believes finals in reach
Daily Telegraph, April 21
CALLUM Mills believes history is “irrelevant” when it comes to the Swans and playing finals, despite the club sitting uncomfortably at 0-4.
Only one team — North Melbourne in 1975 — has made the finals after the same undesirable start. They miraculously won the premiership that year.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Mills said.
“The Western Bulldogs came from seventh and won the premiership, so I think it’s pretty irrelevant really. Our team plays footy to play finals.”
In only his second season, Mills has experienced some of the biggest highs and lows in footy. He won the 2016 Rising Star in the same year he played in a losing grand final. And in the space of 12 months, he’s gone from being in a ladder leading team to one of the shock sliders.
“It’s definitely different,” Mills said of Sydney’s predicament.
“But it’s a great challenge for everyone at the club. We’re trying to stay as positive as possible.
“We’re trying to rectify the mistakes we’ve made.”
Winless Swans call on experience to help topple Giants
The Australian, April 21
With a couple of experienced players back, can the Swans count on their happy hunting ground, the Sydney Cricket Ground, for their first win of the year tomorrow against the Giants?
Sunday’s clash between West Coast and Hawthorn has been robbed of major interest with the withdrawal of new Eagles midfielder and highly decorated former Hawks star Sam Mitchell after he failed to overcome an ankle injury.
Sitting 16th and trying to stay alive this year, Sydney are facing a third straight loss at the SCG, something not seen before in the 153 games since John Longmire took over as senior coach. The Swans have not lost three straight at their favourite ground since 2009 — the last time they failed to make the finals.
Sydney were beaten only twice in 12 games at the SCG last year — both times after holding the lead in the dying seconds — against the Western Bulldogs, when they went down by four points, and against Hawthorn, when they lost by five points. Their 10 wins included a 25-point victory in round three over Greater Western Sydney, who are yet to win at the venue in four attempts.
But a breakthrough victory will come down to personnel not the venue, and Sydney last night were able to recall ruckman/forward Kurt Tippett, Isaac Heeney and Gary Rohan from illness and injury, and added their sixth debutant this year, key defender Lewis Melican. The three experienced players come back a week after Tom Papley was taken off the long-term injury list to gain some game time against West Coast.
Veteran Jarrad McVeigh was not selected despite overcoming a calf problem but Tippett reappears for the first time since damaging his ankle early in round two against the Bulldogs. Heeney and Rohan will play for the first time this year.
Swans hope returning stars align as they look to rewrite history with run to finals
SMH, April 21
The winless Swans have brought back three stars for Saturday night's season-defining derby against Greater Western Sydney, but Jarrad McVeigh will miss the clash after suffering another setback at training on Thursday.
Ruckman Kurt Tippett joins Isaac Heeney and Gary Rohan in the returning brigade with the latter two set for their first AFL games of the season.
They will be joined by hard-working defender Lewis Melican, a sixth debutant of the season already as John Longmire's side desperately attempts to kick-start its campaign against their fiercest rivals.
But McVeigh is out after being slated as a potential starter earlier this week by Longmire. He trained on Thursday determined to prove he had overcome a pre-season calf tear, but didn't make it through the session.
"He trained today, got through about half of training and was a little bit tight in his hamstring," Longmire said.
"We think he is OK, he hasn't done anything, but we have decided not to play him this week to take a conservative approach.
"Hopefully he pulls up OK and he will be fine to train next week."
Davis warns Giants teammates to beware of Franklin’s wounded Swans
SMH, April 21
The man who kept Lance Franklin goalless to help steer his Giants to a qualifying final win over Sydney last year has warned his charges to disregard the Swans' horror 0-4 start to 2017 ahead of Saturday's derby.
GWS co-captain Phil Davis is bracing for the wounded Swans to come out firing at the SCG, where the Giants are yet to win an AFL game, and says last year's shutdown of Franklin counts for nothing heading into the potentially season-defining clash.
Franklin has had a quiet fortnight booting two goals in the West Coast loss last Thursday after failing to kick a major in the one-point defeat to Collingwood a week prior.
During that time the Giants have shrugged off a round-one hammering by Adelaide to beat North Melbourne and Port Adelaide, surging into the AFL's top four.
Saturday's clash is the first time that GWS have held a superior position on the AFL table heading into the derby, but Davis said ladder positions were irrelevant.
"You play Sydney any time, they're pretty dangerous," Davis said.
Rocking the joint
Daily Telegraph, April 20
IF THE 0-4 Swans are looking for inspiration (and they are) they need look no further than their teammate Alex Johnson who is just weeks away from an incredible comeback — five years after his last senior game, the 2012 Grand Final.
His return after 12 knee surgeries, including five reconstructions, is the kind of inspiration the beleaguered club needs.
The Swans have a habit of finding another gear when rallying around players suffering hard times.
When Adam Goodes walked away from the game in the middle of the 2015 season the Swans responded in his absence by downing Adelaide at the SCG by 52 points.
Kurt Tippett played with a broken hand and Lance Franklin with an injured back which forced him to miss the next three weeks.
Last year when Kieren Jack’s family troubles became public in the lead-up to his 200th game the Swans lifted (as did Jack) to beat Geelong at Simonds Stadium for just the second time in the past 17 years.
Their previous win at the Cattery came immediately after Jarrad McVeigh and his wife Clementine’s baby daughter Luella passed away in 2011, ending a 1462-day unbeaten run by the Cats at home.
Sydney’s caring culture helped Johnson through his ordeal. Last year he won the Barry Round award for best clubman.
“I can feel the energy the other guys give me,” Johnson told the Daily Telegraph.
“They are pretty excited to have me back and that means a lot to me. It gives me a lot of confidence.
“I’m looking forward to training each day. It’s why you play football to train with your mates every day. It is awesome to be enjoying footy again.”