The Sydney Swans have named a star forward and a star in the making for their season opener against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
Lance Franklin has trained strongly with his teammates at the SCG this week to prove his fitness and will take his place in the side to tackle the Bulldogs.
Alongside Franklin in the forward line will be 19-year-old Nick Blakey who has been named to make his AFL debut.
The QBE Sydney Swans Academy graduate was recruited via the club’s first round selection in the 2018 National Draft and has done enough to impress the coaches throughout the pre-season to earn his call-up.
Coach John Longmire said he was thrilled to be able to give Blakey a run at senior football so early in the season.
“I have known Nick since he was born so it is great to be able to pass on that information to him, the happy news, that he was getting his first game,” Longmire said.
“He has had a terrific first pre-season and we really look forward to what he can deliver in the red and white.”
Longmire said Franklin had done enough training over the last month to prove he was ready to take part in the first match of the season.
“He has trained really well, he has trained a fair bit more than what he trained last year for the entire season, really,” Longmire said.
“He has been training now for nearly four weeks, so he is ready to go and is confident.
“We think he will get better as the weeks progress, he won’t play the entire game but he will get better as the weeks progress, so we are looking forward to a really good game from Lance.”
Midfielder Ryan Clarke will make his debut in the red and white after 40 games with North Melbourne after being drafted in 2015.
“Clarkey has had a great pre-season and he runs really hard,” Longmire said.
“He can play a number of positions for us and he just keeps on going for the whole game.
“We know we need a good team of runners when we play the Bulldogs on a fast deck and he provides plenty of run.”
Callum Mills, Sam Reid and Lewis Melican are all welcome additions to the Round 1 side after the trio missed the majority of the 2018 season.
CLICK HERE to see the Round 1 team.