Sydney backman Dane Rampe has earned the coach’s applause after turning in another unblemished display in the win over the Western Bulldogs.
The vice-captain collected 23 disposals, eight marks and four rebound 50s and read the play with expertise in the seven-point win last Saturday.
He also beat star Bulldogs midfielder Marcus Bontempelli in a crucial contest on the goal line with 60 seconds on the clock as the Swans clung to a one-point lead.
Swans coach John Longmire says Rampe’s never-say-die attitude is the key to his game.
“He just competes all the time and generally makes the right decisions with ball in hand but he bases his game on being a massive competitor,” Longmire said on Macquarie Sports Radio.
“Whether he’s on a tall or a small, he’s got the capacity to play on both.
“Probably against Patrick Dangerfield last year in the finals was one of the few times he’s been beaten and as we all know Dangerfield is a pretty reasonable player. But if I had my time again I’d still put Rampe on him. That was just one of those few games where he was beaten.”
Rampe took out the Swans’ Rising Star award in 2013 and joined top-rate AFL defenders Alex Rance and Jeremy McGovern in the last line of defence in the 2016 All-Australian team.
The 27-year-old didn’t miss a game in 2016 and was crucial to the Swans’ stunning 2017 run in which they lost just twice in 17 games between Round 9 and the elimination final.
But Rampe’s journey hasn’t taken the easiest of roads.
The Clovelly local packed his bags and headed to Victoria after missing out on NSW/ACT Rams representation due to Newington College commitments.
But despite grinding through two pre-seasons with the Western Bulldogs and two seasons with Williamstown in the VFL, Rampe wasn’t able to land a spot on an AFL list.
The luckless defender had lost the fire in the belly and returned to Sydney in 2012 for a casual kick with the East Sydney Bulldogs in the Sydney Football League.
He caught the eye of the Swans and the club secured him in the 2013 Rookie Draft.
“He almost gave up on his chance to play AFL footy,” Longmire said.
“But he came back up to the Sydney League and did a pre-season up here and played a season and did very well and we drafted him based on his athleticism as a rookie. But really from the day that he turned up here he’s shown he is an elite competitor.”