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Swans in the Media - March 8, 2018

Naismith injury huge blow for Swans
Neil Cordy
Daily Telegraph, March 8

SYDNEY’S premiership hopes took a big hit when No.1 ruckman Sam Naismith suffered a season-ending knee injury.

The 25-year-old ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament during Swans training.

“Obviously this is a disappointing setback for Sam so close to the start of the new season,” Swans head of football Tom Harley said.

“Sam was involved in a fairly routine training drill when his knee innocuously twisted, causing a rupture of his anterior cruciate ­ligament.”

In better news for the Swans, Zak Jones and Heath Grundy will return for Friday night’s JLT match against the GWS Giants at Blacktown.

“We’re getting almost a full list together now,” Swans assistant Steve Johnson said.

“Zak will have limited minutes. You can’t come into a full game without preparation, we’ll monitor the minutes and intensity they play at and get them through.” 

McLachlan is keen to retain an oval office
Neil Cordy
Daily Telegraph, March 8

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan wants to continue using ANZ Stadium as a finals venue if the proposed redevelopment does not go ahead.

The ground has drawn the nine biggest AFL crowds outside Melbourne in the game’s history and can hold at least 30,000 more fans than the SCG.

“If it stayed as an oval that would be good for us,” McLachlan said.

“We think the Giants there in a preliminary final ... that’s the right capacity and we’ve shown that when we had 60-odd thousand for the final there two years ago.”

The last AFL match at ANZ Stadium was the 2016 qualifying final between the Swans and Giants, which drew a crowd of 62,222. 

Allowing Swans to recruit a state league player makes a lot of sense
Jon Ralph
Herald Sun, March 8

THE AFL has a habit of tossing a handful of burley into the water for Gill McLachlan’s annual pre-season media briefing.

State-of-Origin, a night Grand Final — they are topics guaranteed to switch the attention away from those pesky summer rival codes.

But McLachlan has pushed so hard and fast on his latest baby — the mid-season trade period — that clearly this is more than a pre-season distraction.

The AFL boss was short on specifics but big on intent on Wednesday, adamant a pre-season draft was a possibility THIS year.

The only problem is the kind of mid-season trade he seems to be proposing has huge downsides for the native code.

A limited mid-season draft which elevates a single player per club off a state-league list makes a whole lot of sense.

In Sydney on Wednesday speaking to Swans captain Josh Kennedy, it was impossible not to see the look of desolation on his face.

His No.1 ruckman Sam Naismith had just gone down with a season-ending knee injury, with Kennedy and his teammates looking on.

With Kurt Tippett retiring prematurely and even the backup to the backup ruckmen Aliir Aliir injured, Sydney starts the year a length behind its rivals.

Allowing them to find the best state league ruckman from the WAFL or SANFL or VFL is something the AFL should consider. 

Cruel twist to Swans’ flag hopes
Adrian Warren
AAP, The Australian, March 8

Sydney’s flag hopes have taken a huge hit, with No 1 ruckman Sam Naismith rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament during a training drill yesterday — a season-ending knee injury.

“Obviously this is a disappointing setback for Sam so close to the start of the new season,” Swans head of football Tom Harley said.

“Sam was involved in a fairly routine training drill when his knee innocuously twisted, causing a rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament.”

The Swans have gone from a glut of frontline ruckmen to a dearth of options in less than two years. Toby Nankervis was traded to Richmond at the end of the 2016 campaign and is now a premiership player with the ­Tigers, while Kurt Tippett retired in January due to a lingering ankle injury.

With the 25-year-old Naismith gone for the year, Callum Sinclair is the only available experienced ruckman on the Swans’ list.

Sinclair hurt an ankle in Sydney’s pre-season match against Brisbane but assistant coach Steve Johnson said the 28-year-old was in no doubt for the season opener against West Coast on March 25.

The 205cm Naismith enjoyed his best season to date last year, playing 15 games for a career tally of 28. 

Swans ruckman out for the season with knee injury
James Buckley
SMH, March 8

Sydney's preparations for the fast-approaching AFL season have been thrown into turmoil after ruckman Sam Naismith ruptured a ligament in his right knee during a training session on Wednesday morning.

Scans confirmed the luckless 25-year-old would require a knee reconstruction, ruling him out of 2018 and dealing a cruel blow to the club's dwindling ruck stocks.

Kurt Tippett retired during the off season, while Callum Sinclair is battling an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out of Friday's pre-season clash against the cross-town Giants.

It leaves uncapped West Australian Darcy Cameron to handle the bulk of rucking duties on Friday, and most likely an AFL role to play this season alongside Sinclair, who is expected to be fit to play against West Coast in round one.

Naismith went down innocuously during a match simulation at the Lakeside Oval on Wednesday, and was visibly in pain as he required assistance from the field.

He was assessed by club medical staff before leaving training on crutches with his right knee sporting a hefty ice pack.

"Sam was involved in a fairly routine training drill when his knee twisted, causing a rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament," Swans head of football Tom Harley said.

"Obviously this is a disappointing setback for Sam so close to the start of the new season.

"While this is an unfortunate injury for Sam, we know he’s an absolute professional when it comes to his preparation and recovery and he will no doubt do everything possible to make sure he recovers from this injury." 

Twilight AFL grand final a certainty
Greg Denham
The Australian, March 8

A twilight grand final this September has not been locked in by the AFL, despite it coming close to being introduced last year.

“We haven’t made a call as yet but we’ve got a board meeting next week,” AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said of a possible move by the full AFL Commission to start the grand final later and finish under lights.

“I feel it’s inevitable at some point but it has to be right everywhere and everyone’s got to feel this is the right time to try it. One day we’ll do it and I don’t know when that will be.”

Last year’s highly successful Richmond-Greater Western Sydney twilight preliminary final at the MCG was considered a dress rehearsal for this year’s decider. The game started at 4.45pm and attracted 94,258.

“It’s more the emotion and the logistics of the grand final being a huge event as opposed to the prelim, where you don’t have all the production challenges,” McLachlan said. “I think the timing works, per se. The first half during the day and the second half under lights, I think it works.

“The challenge for all of us is to make progress while respecting the heritage. That balance is the biggest thing that’s in our mind with everything.”

Last year the AFL acknowledged its grand final was one of the very few, if not the only, major world team sporting event still played during daylight hours. McLachlan said 13 months ago that commissioners were divided on retaining the traditional 2.30pm start.

“I haven’t ruled it (a twilight grand final) out,” he said. “I’ve said it openly — there’s divisions on this. At some point in the next 10 years, there’ll be a change.”