Sydney Swans co-captain Josh Kennedy knows his side won’t be met with the ferocious roars of the Adelaide Crows faithful when he runs out on the club’s home deck on Saturday – but he is nonetheless expecting a huge challenge.
While Adelaide’s full-blooded supporter base won’t be in the stands as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the Crows are set to wheel out a team packed with established campaigners.
Captain and midfield warrior Rory Sloane will play his 200th AFL match, while Taylor Walker, Rory Laird, Rory Atkins, Matt and Brad Crouch and Bryce Gibbs are also among the many seasoned Crows set to go.
Kennedy is anticipating a formidable test in his side’s season-opener.
“It’s going to be a fierce contest. I know the Crows didn’t win a game in the pre-season, but the Doggies were the same last year and then ended up having a quality season,” Kennedy told SwansTV.
“The pre-season games mean nothing as of now and things are about to go up another level. We’re expecting a fierce game and we’re really looking forward to Saturday.”
Adelaide beat Sydney by 26 points at the SCG when the clubs last met in Round 2, 2019, while the Swans escaped with victory in a three-point thriller when they last clashed at Adelaide Oval in Round 22, 2017.
However, the Crows’ list has undergone significant change since the end of last season.
Eddie Betts, Sam Jacobs, Hugh Greenwood, Alex Keath, Josh Jenkins, Cam Ellis-Yolmen and a 2020 third-round pick all departed Adelaide in exchange for Billy Frampton and a host of 2019 and future draft selections.
The Crows also drafted Fischer McAsey, Harry Schoenberg, Josh Worrell, Ronin O’Connor, Lachlan Gollant, Ben Keays and Ben Crocker, while they added Ayce Taylor via the pre-season supplemental selection period just last week.
When prompted on how his own team has tackled the off-season, star midfielder Kennedy said the Swans had stuck to their trusted processes.
“The build-up to Round 1 has been very similar to previous years; it’s just that the game will be a bit different without the fans,” Kennedy said.
“The actual build-up itself has been great. It’s an exciting time of year, we’re excited to see a lot of players take the next step in their development, whether it’s their first game, first year, second year or third year. We’re really excited to see that improvement in our list and we’re looking forward to getting into it. It’s been a long pre-season and we’re looking forward to getting out there.”
Kennedy wants as many Swans fans as possible to show their passion for the team.
“Support is needed more than ever,” Kennedy said.
“Whether it’s behind the TV, with family, with friends or through different social networks, any way you can support the club and support the players would be amazing.
“We know the support is there even though you’re not able to go in person, and we’re going to continue to do our best to represent you guys, our fans, in the right way.”
Keep up to date on the latest Sydney Swans news via sydneyswans.com.au, the Official Sydney Swans Club App or the club’s social media.