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Swans ponder ruck set-up

Emerging Sydney Swans ruckman Michael Knoll in action in the NEAFL.

An extraordinary football journey will reach a fairytale chapter if either Michael Knoll or Joel Amartey are this week presented an AFL debut, but Sydney Swans coach John Longmire is remaining tight-lipped on how he will tackle the ruck situation.

Longmire has opted for the two-pronged ruck attack of defender Aliir Aliir and forward Sam Reid over the last two games, a makeshift arrangement in absence of injured trio Sam Naismith (knee), Callum Sinclair (shoulder) and Darcy Cameron (quad).

In search of a potential new ruckman for Saturday’s clash with Fremantle in Perth, emerging twin towers Knoll and Amartey shared the load at the stoppages in last week’s NEAFL fixture against the Southport Sharks.

Knoll finished with 12 disposals and 22 hit-outs, and Amartey collected 14 touches, 19 hit-outs and two goals, as Sydney cruised to a 47-point win over the reigning premier.

But Longmire says neither are a certainty to board the flight to Perth.

“We’re a chance to give another ruckman an opportunity this week and that doesn’t mean we’re definitely going to. Knoll and Amartey are two of our developing ruckmen,” Longmire told Melbourne radio station SEN.

“We go over to Perth this week against a tough ask in Aaron Sandilands. We’re mindful of that.

“We’d like Aliir at centre-half back and we’d like to keep Sam Reid forward as much as we can, but we don’t yet know if we will be able to get that this week.”

Knoll didn’t take up Australian rules football until 2017 when he ran out for a practice match with Victorian Football League club the Box Hill Hawks, and he was only playing reserves footy for Vermont in the Eastern Football League in 2018.

The 205-centimetre, 103-kilogram behemoth then made a switch to the South Adelaide Panthers in the South Australian National Football League ahead of season 2019.

Twenty-six-year-old Knoll had played competitive basketball from a young age, and he spent four years in the US college system before returning to Australia and picking up a Sherrin.

His Australian rules football pursuit took a stunning rise as the Swans snapped him up as a mid-season rookie in May.

Originally a star basketballer himself, Amartey idolised former NBA champion Allen Iverson and had dreams of playing professionally until around the age of 18.

Although unlike Knoll, Amartey isn’t new to Australian rules football, having played junior footy in Melbourne with Mentone Grammar School and the Sandringham Dragons.

Adding to the young Swan’s fascinating story is he is of African heritage as, while he was born in Australia, his dad Clement hails from Ghana.

Kenya-born Aliir and Irishman Colin O’Riordan patched together remarkable stories en route to the bright lights of the AFL.

Could another be set to be told?