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McVeigh experience invaluable

McVeigh Press Conference - March 21st, 2019 Jarrad McVeigh speaks to the media ahead of the round 1 clash against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday.

Sydney veteran Jarrad McVeigh will be a crucial part of his side's fortunes this year, with the former co-captain's footy intelligence set to give his team a real edge after changes to League rules regarding runners.

A future coach in waiting, McVeigh's 319 games of experience will come in extremely handy for senior boss John Longmire, who will only be able to send messages to his players after a goal has been kicked after the AFL made moves to keep runners on the bench and out of the play.

McVeigh, 33, is the chief instructor of the Swans' defence on game day and often finds himself further up the ground helping to guide and mentor his younger teammates.

With Dane Rampe and Heath Grundy alongside him against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night, and Nick Smith set to join them later in the season once he recovers from hamstring surgery, Sydney's backline is full of experience.

McVeigh isn't sure his side will gain a massive advantage over a less established opposition but agreed on Thursday that it can only help.

"It's up to the players to make decisions on the fly and I think we've got a good bunch of leaders to be able to do that, and we'll back ourselves in," he said.

"You don't see the runner at all because by the time he gets out to us, it's time to get off the ground.

"Playing in the back half you can see what's unfolding up the ground, whereas the midfielders may find it a bit harder because their playing inside.

"We'll try and talk to them as much as possible and the experience (we have) does help, but most players know what they're doing.

"If the call we make is wrong the coaches can pretty quickly get a message to the bench and get it changed."

The Swans will take on an inexperienced Dogs forward set-up at Marvel Stadium without Smith, an All Australian who has been an important part of the backline for the past decade.

However, they will have youngster Lewis Melican available, who played just three matches last season because of multiple hamstring issues in both legs.

Melican gives the Swans defence great flexibility and his inclusion will help Rampe play with more freedom, where his attack from the back half sets up plenty of offence.

"Lewis is a critically important player for us and we rate him very highly," McVeigh said.

"Last year with his hamstring troubles we missed him dearly, but he's had a good pre-season and it'll be nice to have him out there on the weekend."

The pundits haven't predicted much success for the Bulldogs in 2019, but McVeigh said the Swans know what they'll be up against when they take on a side under premiership coach Luke Beveridge.

"We've got so much respect for them. The battles we've had with them over the years have been pretty tight," he said.

"Their midfielders are some of the best in the competition and it's always midfield versus midfield to see who gets that ascendancy, and that's where it's won or lost.

"Guys like (Jack) Macrae and (Lachie) Hunter, they've got 'Libba' (Tom Liberatore) back now, those tough nuts inside with elite hands, we're going to have to be on our game to close them down."