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Hot Topics: Round 1, 2019

Red & White News - 19th March, 2019 Get all your Sydney Swans news before Saturdays round 1 match against the Bulldogs.

The return to action of a star Sydney Swans trio is among a host of Hot Topics as the countdown to Saturday night’s season-opening clash with the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium continues.

Battle of the young guns

A host of star young talent will descend on the Marvel Stadium turf as names like Oliver Florent, Aliir Aliir, Tom Papley and Will Hayward meet gun Dogs Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Hunter, Jack Macrae and Ed Richards. Sydney coach John Longmire has continually underlined the enormous impact his young Swans have had in recent years, with the club’s 18 debutants of the past three seasons combining for the most games competition-wide (194). The Swans blooded five debutants in season 2018 in Ben Ronke, Tom McCartin, Ryley Stoddart, Colin O’Riordan and Darcy Cameron, with Ronke (18 matches) and McCartin (15) both going on to mount serious workloads. In the Dogs’ camp, All Australian and two-time club best-and-fairest winner Bontempelli is perhaps the strongest of their young brigade, so the Swans will likely have done their homework on the big-framed midfielder ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Sydney Swans young gun Will Hayward takes a mark in the club's duel with the Western Bulldogs in Round 4 last year.

Star trio returns

Injury rubbed out Callum Mills, Sam Reid and Lewis Melican for the vast majority of last season, but the star trio is expected to return on Saturday. Neither Reid (quad) nor Melican (hamstring) featured at AFL level after succumbing to injury in the same passage of play against GWS in Round 3, with Reid suffering from Achilles troubles and Melican hindered by his hamstrings throughout the remainder of the season. Mills took out the Goodes-O’Loughlin Medal for best on ground in the same match, but a broken foot meant he wouldn’t pull on a guernsey again after facing Fremantle in Round 9. Reid’s towering height, powerful lead, strong kick for goal and considerable experience make the 2012 premiership forward a dangerous element for the Swans inside 50, while Melican’s ability to shut a juggernaut forward out of the game saw him enjoy a rapid rise to stardom in 2017. Mills has fired at half-back since being drafted to the Swans ahead of season 2016, but the 21-year-old is this year set for a move to the midfield, where he’ll work with bullocking duo Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker. Keep an eye on Mills, Reid and Melican as they begin their comebacks from long-term injury.

New-look Swans

Swans fans could see a number of new names on paper when Longmire announces his side on Thursday night. Ryan Clarke (North Melbourne), Jackson Thurlow (Geelong) and Daniel Menzel (Geelong) all signed with Sydney via last October’s trade period, and the club then opened its doors to seven draftees in November. Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney, Zac Foot, Durak Tucker, Harry Reynolds and Sam Wicks are all now donning the red and white. The 2018 campaign saw McCartin and Stoddart both reach the big time in their first seasons at the Swans, and any number of 2019 draftees could be set to follow in the young duo’s footsteps. Neither Tucker (knee) nor Wicks (Category B Rookie) will be available for selection this week, while an injury cloud still surrounds Menzel due to the forward's off-season groin surgery. But a fresh wave of faces could be set for centre stage.

New Sydney Swans recruits Ryan Clarke (left) and Jackson Thurlow (right) are in the frame to debut for the red and white on Saturday.

Last time they played

The Swans and Dogs treated the footy world to one of the most entertaining games of the 2018 season when the clubs last squared off in Round 4. Florent sealed the match with a goal on the run with less than 30 seconds on the clock to put the Docklands crowd in raptures. The Swans’ 2018 Rising Star champion swooped on the footy on the left wing with Dogs ruckman Tim English hot on his heels. But Florent would take one bounce, run at full pelt for 40 metres and send the Sherrin fizzing through the sticks to hand his side a seven-point win for the ages. Fans sure will get their full money’s worth if Saturday plays host to a script of similar events.

Round 1 history

You won’t be any closer to finding a safe tip for Saturday’s game after digging in to the history books. The Swans have claimed victory in Round 1 on five occasions since 2009, with four losses and a draw rounding out the decade. The Dogs have produced mixed opening-round results themselves, with a record of five wins and five losses sitting beside their name. Powerhouse forward Lance Franklin last year slammed home eight goals in Perth to lead Sydney to a 15-point season-opening win over West Coast in Perth, and the Swans will again be looking to rise to the occasion in Saturday’s Round 1 showdown.