Sydney Swans development coach Jeremy Laidler has simple advice for his first-year charges ahead of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening clash with GWS.
The Giants Stadium fixture will see new Swans James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney, Zac Foot, Harry Reynolds and Hayden McLean all make their NEAFL debuts.
First-year small forward Sam Wicks will also don the red and white, although the youngster played plenty of NEAFL footy in his QBE Sydney Swans Academy journey.
Laidler isn’t overcomplicating things for his young Swans ahead of their match against GWS.
“We just want them to enjoy it. As long as they play their roles and play to their strengths, that’s all we can ask of them,” Laidler told SwansTV.
“We don’t expect them to be best on ground; we just want them to play their part. That’ll go a long way to winning the game.”
The Swans will welcome back defenders Lewis Melican and Colin O’Riordan and midfielder Ryan Clarke for the Round 1 game against the Giants.
All three of them featured in the senior side’s loss to the Adelaide Crows at the SCG last Friday night, and Laidler says the NEAFL is an ideal platform for the trio to get back on track.
“They’ve played some senior footy and it’s not great for them to come back to the NEAFL, but they’ll be able to find some form and consistency in the NEAFL and hopefully push their way back into the senior side,” Laidler said.
“What they give our NEAFL side is some experience and our young boys will thrive off that. With Lewis and Colin down back, we’ll have guys like Harry Reynolds thriving off them. So those three guys returning to the NEAFL will help your younger players, and the NEAFL game will also give them a chance to get back to doing what they do best.”
Former Sydney co-captain Kieren Jack will also run out for the NEAFL outside, with the hard-nosed 31-year-old midfielder looking to make progress on the road back from off-season knee surgery.
The Swans played Sydney University, the Canberra Demons and GWS in three practice matches in preparation for Round 1, with Laidler’s men losing the first and claiming victory in the next two.
Sydney trumped GWS by 43 points in Homebush last Saturday, and Laidler said his side’s rock-solid pre-season had laid a strong foundation.
“The trust around the group is good and the energy is high,” Laidler said.
“We reviewed those practice matches pretty heavily and we’ll take those reviews into this week against the Giants. I thought our effort and consistency was pretty good last week, but we’ll have to take that to another level on Saturday.”
Who: GWS v Sydney Swans
Where: Giants Stadium, Homebush, Sydney
When: Saturday, 12:55pm
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Sydney Swans team:
B: 46. J Amartey 43. L Melican 54. R Barkley
HB: 49. C Kilpatrick 47. T Pink 31. H Reynolds
C: 32. J Bell 8. J Rowbottom 16. Z Foot
HF: 27. J McInerney 38. C O'Riordan 1. J Rose
F: 15. K Jack 45. S Wicks 60. H McLean
R: 17. D Cameron 42. R Fox 4. R Clarke
Inter: 52. J Pawle 33. R Stoddart 50. K Veerhuis 58. J Willis 55. M Rossmann
Emer: 53. C Wilson