Livewire Sydney Swans forward James Rose hopes facing an All Australian backman and an emerging star in defence in pre-season match simulation is setting him up for a breakthrough 2019 campaign.

The 22-year-old has played just nine senior games since being drafted to Sydney ahead of season 2015, but he’s now relishing the challenge of clashing with Dane Rampe and Colin O’Riordan in match simulation in his push for more AFL footy this year.

“It’s good to establish a role early in the pre-season to get a clear picture of what your year will look like, and we’ve got some quality defenders in Dane Rampe and also Colin O’Riordan, who’s especially looking good during the pre-season,” Rose told SwansTV.

“It’s good to test yourself against the likes of those guys. Facing up against good defenders makes you take the same kind of mindset you would into a game into a training session. That’s how you get the best out of yourself, so it’s a real positive to be able to play against those guys early in the year.”

Rose made his AFL debut as Sydney trumped GWS by 89 points in Round 21, 2015, a match which saw the young star boot three goals from just six touches.

And while he’s enjoyed little senior footy since, he’s become a key cog in the Swans’ NEAFL side as he’s split his time between the forward line and midfield.

Rose finished the 2018 NEAFL season with an average of 24 disposals per match and a total of 22 goals, including one return of four majors and two three-goal games.

Rose said he was content with his performance in Friday’s match simulation at Marrickville’s Henson Park, with the fifth-year Swan particularly impressing during his time spent forward.

As with Tom Papley, Ben Ronke and a number of other Sydney small forwards, Rose’s biggest strengths are his ravenous ground-level hunt for the Sherrin and massive ability as a goal-sneak – and those two facets of his game stood out in Friday’s hit-out.

Rose says he’s wanting to reap the rewards of mounting a rock-solid pre-season.

“Four years of being in and out of the senior side is a nuisance, but I’ve put in a lot of work to put my best foot forward and really try to have a good crack at a full season in the AFL this year,” Rose said.

“Hopefully my pre-season’s been enough, and we’ll look ahead to the next couple of weeks and see what happens.” 

Rose said the Swans’ upcoming JLT Community Series fixtures would offer him a clearer gage of his pre-season progress, with Sydney set to meet GWS in Blacktown on March 2 and the Gold Coast Suns in Lismore on March 10.

Rose was on fire when he last laced up the boots for an official match, with the explosive Swan collecting 38 possessions and a stunning goal in Sydney’s Grand Final showdown with the Southport Sharks last September.

And he says at the centre of his focus is carrying that eye-catching form into the 2019 season.

“You’re only as good as your last game, so I put a real emphasis on that game to prove to everyone that this football club is where I’m supposed to be,” Rose said.

“And hopefully I’ll be able to take that form into senior footy this year.”