Sydney Swans forward Joel Amartey is making the most of his opportunity, impressing in his tall forward combination with Lance Franklin.

The Swans suddenly seem blessed for tall talent with Amartey the latest young forward to line up alongside Franklin after Logan McDonald and Hayden McLean had opportunities earlier this season.

The spritely 21-year-old has jumped the queue in his four matches, impressing in the tricky forward-ruck role and at times upstaging his superstar teammate with his soaring leap and electrifying energy. 

"He is dynamic, he's explosive, he's powerful," Sydney ruck coach Dean Cox told

"His ability to fly for the ball and take contested marks but also be able to follow up at ground level, whether it be in the ruck or forward, has been a really good point of difference for us."

The Swans started the season with three tall forwards, as Sam Reid and McDonald played the first five matches alongside Franklin when he was fit or McLean when he wasn't. 

Since then the Swans have preferred to play with only two key forwards, looking to Isaac Heeney (185cm) and Will Hayward (186cm) to play tall and compete in the air while also being able to join Tom Papley and Sam Wicks in pouncing on the ball when it hits the deck.

Franklin is, of course, the first forward selected when available, as he has been for the past eight matches, but with Reid suffering his third long-term injury in the past four seasons the Swans partnered McDonald, McLean or veteran Callum Sinclair with their 34-year-old teammate.

Amartey was made to wait until round 12 for his chance despite standing out in his four VFL matches. He's now averaging 11 disposals, eight hitouts, 1.8 contested marks and a goal in four AFL matches.

"He's fit enough now. He'd shown that explosiveness for shorter periods but wouldn't be able to sustain it," Cox said. 

"He's put a heap of work in and now he's getting benefits from being able to get from contest to contest and not drop away as quickly.

"He's surprised me a bit with his consistency across his games. He's been able to stay in games for longer periods."

While the Swans see McDonald and McLean as pure forwards, and Sinclair is now considered a back-up to Tom Hickey in the ruck, the 197cm Amartey can offer a forward threat and rucking relief.

The 2017 rookie selection put his broad talents on show against West Coast last week, taking a contested mark against Jeremy McGovern, out-jumping Nic Naitanui in a ruck contest and finishing with two goals.

Cox, a six-time All-Australian ruckman, believes Amartey should continue combining the two roles. 

"He's got the ability to split his time between ruck and forward," Cox said. 

"He's spending a lot of time with the forward group to get the patterns right and understand when to present. But the ruck craft is coming along too.

"It'll be a bit of both for him all the way through. There is still a long way to go but he's made some real inroads."

Sydney key forwards




Contested marks (ave)

Hitouts (ave)

Lance Franklin





Hayden McLean





Logan McDonald





Sam Reid






Joel Amartey





Callum Sinclair