Jarrad McVeigh will play his first game for season 2017 when the Sydney Swans take on the Brisbane Lions on Sunday.
The 287-game veteran is one of five inclusions for the Round 7 clash at the SCG, joining Sam Naismith, Aliir Aliir, Ollie Florent and Dean Towers in replacing Gary Rohan (concussion), Jeremy Laidler (Achilles), Brandon Jack (omitted), Nic Newman (omitted) and James Rose (omitted).
McVeigh hasn’t played a senior game since last year’s Grand Final after persistent calf issues interrupted his pre-season campaign and then kept him sidelined for the first six rounds.
He was close to returning two weeks ago, ahead of Sydney Derby XII, but the coaches decided to err on the side of caution and rule him out after the 32-year-old pulled up sore after training with a tight hamstring.
No such worries this week, with senior coach John Longmire describing his former skipper’s experience as a timely addition.
“He’s obviously a vital member of our team and a really hard driver, so we’re rapt to get him back out on the ground,” Longmire said.
“He’ll give us some really good voice, direction and leadership.
“His ability to play on different types of players in different positions will be really invaluable for us.”
With the absence of Kurt Tippett who was a late withdrawal in Round 6, Sam Naismith’s return couldn’t have come at a better time with the No. 35 stepping in to help shoulder the ruck load alongside Callum Sinclair.
Naismith played the first three games of the season before injuring his medial ligament at training, forcing the big man to watch the ensuing weeks from the sidelines.
He’s back and ready to contest the taps against in-form Brisbane ruckman Stef Martin.
“He’s made a fantastic recovery,” Longmire added on Naismith.
“This time last week we didn’t expect him to play, but he’s got himself right, trained and completed all the running he needed to do…it’s fantastic to have him back in the team.”
Rohan wasn’t the only injury concerns stemming from last week’s sixth loss on the trot for the Swans.
Laidler’s Achilles tendon pulled up sore during the game and didn’t recover in time, the defender restricted to light duties on Thursday, paving the way for Aliir Aliir’s recall.
Aliir earned his chance after performing well for the NEAFL Swans in Darwin last Friday night and will be needed to quell the Lions young but talented forward line of Eric Hipwood, Josh Schache and Michael Close.
Brisbane will be out to break a hoodoo and avoid a 10-game losing streak against the Sydney Swans.
They haven't beaten the red and white since Round 3, 2009, nor played at the SCG since Round 6, 2013.
The Lions pushed the Swans in their only clash last season with that game going down to the wire at the Gabba - 15.7 (97) to 14.10 (94).
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