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Swans use intel to battle Nic Nat

Longmire Press Conference - 13th June, 2018 John Longmire fronts up to the media ahead of Fridays clash against West Coast.
Callum Sinclair and Nic Naitanui do battle during the Round 1 contest between these two sides.

Sydney has called on all its ruck resources this week as it searches for a plan to counter West Coast star Nic Naitanui in Friday night's massive clash at the SCG.

John Longmire has the benefit of having Eagles legend Dean Cox on his coaching staff, and Cox's knowledge of his former teammate will no doubt be of great benefit to another ex-West Coast ruckman in Callum Sinclair.

But Sydney has also engaged injured big man Sam Naismith – who has been working closely with the Swans' reserves after rupturing his ACL over summer – to help scout West Coast's imposing ruck division, with Naitanui and Scott Lycett one of the competition's best pairings.

Sinclair has been outstanding in carrying the club's ruck load this season after the retirement of Kurt Tippett, coupled with Naismith's injury, thrust him into the number one role.

Longmire said being able to lean on Cox ahead of this week's blockbuster has been invaluable, given he not only played alongside Naitanui but was part of the Eagles coaching staff.

"Dean has been great for our footy club from the moment he walked in," he said.

"Obviously he knows West Coast but it's one thing to know them, it's another thing trying to execute those plans and delivering on match day.

"The ruck crew have got their own little secret society, and they get together and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.

"Naitanui at the moment is back to his best and dominating, and his ability to get his hand on it because he's such a big man is a handful for any team.

"Other teams have gone with two rucks or just used one against them, and we're still weighing that up."

The Swans have been happy to let Sinclair shoulder the bulk of the responsibility as a lone ruckman in 2018 and he's thrived in the role, turning out career-best numbers in possessions (15.4 per game), contested possessions (9.3), hitouts (30.8) and clearances (3.0).

He's also shown off his athleticism by floating forward by kicking 10 goals.

But Longmire said Sinclair's job of bringing his star onballers into the game against the Eagles is just as important as his ability to quell the influence of Naitanui and Lycett, especially with gun midfielder Luke Shuey expected to return from a hamstring injury. 

"If you've got a dominant ruckman you win the clearances and you get great ground position, and that's an important part of footy," he said.

"You're able to set up repeats (entries inside 50) and really work the opposition over and we're aware of that.

"West Coast is really good at transferring the ball from their back half as well, they're elite at scoring from their defensive half.

"Our boys in the midfield have been going OK, and they'll need to be going really well this week to match that."

The Swans look set to recall veteran Kieren Jack for Friday night's clash after he was rested against St Kilda to manage a hip issue.

Longmire said the problem isn't as serious as the one that hindered Jack during the first half of last year.

The 30-year-old completed a running session on Monday, and looked to be moving well when he took to the track for the Swans' training run on Wednesday.