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NEAFL: Amartey relishes run in ruck

Sydney Swans young gun Joel Amartey (right) celebrates a goal with James Rose (left). Photo: Keith McInnes/NEAFL.
It’s good to get an extra midfielder in there and help the boys out. I always look forward to helping out in the ruck and it was good to play a bigger role in the ruck on the weekend.
Joel Amartey

Bulldozing Sydney Swans youngster Joel Amartey says he relished the opportunity to play as the side’s primary ruckman in Saturday’s 22-point victory over Sydney University.

The 197-centimetre, 96-kilogram giant started the Henson Park clash in the forward line, but when Darcy Cameron left play with a calf strain during the opening quarter, he stepped up to lead the Swans at the stoppages.

By the end of the match Amartey had posted a game-high 42 hit-outs, as well as 16 disposals and a goal, as Sydney clawed back a spot in the winners’ circle.

Amartey sees the forward line as his primary area of the ground, but the 19-year-old said he enjoyed the chance to shoulder the majority of the Swans’ ruck load in the match with the Students.

“The change of roles was sudden but I got through it and thought I did pretty well,” Amartey told Swans Media.

“I usually pinch-hit for five minutes in the ruck here and there when Darcy needs a break. It’s good to get an extra midfielder in there and help the boys out. I always look forward to helping out in the ruck and it was good to play a bigger role in the ruck on the weekend.

“At pretty much every training session I’m working with the forwards and also working on my rucking with Callum Sinclair, Darcy and Dean Cox, so it’s always good to test my progress in a game.”

Sydney recruited Amartey as a rookie in November 2017, and the Sandringham Dragons product showed enough in his first year to have his contract extended until at the end of season 2019.

Young Swans Nick Blakey, Justin McInerney and James Rowbottom have all made their AFL debuts in the early rounds of the 2019 campaign, and Amartey says he’s determined to earn a senior call-up of his own over the remainder of the season.

“I just want to be my best in every game, build on my form and push for AFL selection,” Amartey said.

“It’s just about looking to perform at my best in every NEAFL game and hoping an opportunity arises.”

Off-season recruit Daniel Menzel made his first appearance in red and white in Saturday’s victory against Sydney University.

The former Geelong Cats dynamo spent the opening rounds of the season in the injury ward after undergoing a bout of groin surgery, but he collected three goals in a promising return to action against the Students.

Amartey said the 27-year-old, who snared 136 goals in 73 games as a Cat, had a massive impact on the club’s emerging players on the day.

“Dan helped me out a lot. When I was in the forward line he was talking and directing and trying to get me in the right spots,” Amartey said.

“To have someone of his experience playing with us in the NEAFL was great for us younger players. His input was enormous for us.”