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NEAFL: Can Toby fill the void?

Luke McManus  June 19, 2017 6:32 PM

Toby Pink contests the ruck on Saturday against Aspley.

Toby Pink contests the ruck on Saturday against Aspley.

A further subplot to Kurt Tippett's ankle injury is the ruck dilemma facing NEAFL coach Rhyce Shaw ahead of Friday's clash against Sydney Uni, with an unlikely source firming as a temporary fix to the problem.

Tippett, who suffered the injury in Saturday's win over Aspley, has shouldered the ruck duties for the past two NEAFL matches but with the big man now sidelined for at least a week and emerging ruck Darcy Cameron ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury, Shaw's options have thinned as the Swans strive for a 10th consecutive win this weekend.

Key defender Aliir Aliir chimed in when Cameron went down against GWS in Round 10, but even he's in doubt after pulling up sore during Saturday's win against Aspley.

Aliir finished the game in Brisbane on crutches and with ice on his knee, a "minor injury" which Shaw and the medicos will assess later in the week.

Without the luxury of a full-strength ruck outfit, Shaw looks likely to call upon QBE Sydney Swans Academy top-up Liam Maze and emerging swingman Toby Pink.

Maze has featured as a second-stringer to Cameron for two of his three games this season with great effect while Pink, who's played a majority of his first season with the Swans as a key forward, showed plenty at the centre bounces and stoppages against the Hornets to help fill some blanks for Shaw in preparation for Friday's curtain-raiser.

"It's a really interesting one but I'm confident we can work our way around it," Shaw said.

"(Tippett's) been really good for us, he's given us first use and really helped our clearance and centre-bounce numbers in recent weeks.

"Mazey (Liam Maze) has played a good role for us when he's played this year so he'll get another look in and Pinky (Toby Pink) took advantage of his second efforts and attack on the pill to be really damaging for us in there."

Pink has kicked 12 goals from his 10 games this season, not massive numbers for a key forward but it's his forward pressure and ability to bring teammates into the game which is impressing his coach.

Shaw believes Pink will benefit greatly from his foray in the ruck.

"With Toby, he's played really well as a pressure forward. He's kicked a few but mainly he's been a real target for us and brings others into play," he said.

"His role in the ruck has been a bit surprising but he's done really well. He's even played down back in stages as well so he's proving his versatility.

"He's still developing, he's playing some good footy but needs to take a few more steps to be where he wants to be."

The Sydney Swans will take on Sydney Uni for the second time this season in a curtain-raiser to the AFL side's blockbuster against Essendon at the SCG, kicking off at 4.10pm.