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Swans can't wait for Tippett to save them

Malthouse says Tippett vital for Crows (Images: AFL)
Expert
16th May, 2013
13

If you are five wins and two losses after seven rounds, teams in this AFL competition would be seen to be in good shape and ready to make an assault on the top eight.

However, the reigning premiers, Sydney, despite having that record, don’t appear to be performing as well as they would like.

Their draw has been kind, beating just one of last year’s finalists, North Melbourne on the back of a sensational burst in the third term. They also have victories over the lowly quartet, GWS, Gold Coast, St Kilda and Brisbane and were not all that impressive in any of those games.

They are playing in fits and starts and although they don’t have the long injury list of some of the other finals aspirants such as West Coast, Collingwood and Carlton, it’s the type of players they are missing, which is a massive concern.

Their defence has been the cornerstone of their sustained success over the past 10 seasons, when they have only missed the finals once (in 2009), but at the moment, they are without regulars, Alex Johnson, Lewis Roberts-Thompson, who can perform a role at both ends and Rhys Shaw.

Johnson is one of 19 players in the competition who has injured his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, which will sideline him for the season, while Roberts-Thomson and Shaw are still a few weeks away.

Tony Armstrong and Dane Rampe are among their replacements, but they are still finding their way at this level and it’s showing that the Swans when certain injuries hit do lack depth.

The absence of that premiership trio, Johnson, Rampe and Roberts-Thomson has been exposed badly by the two teams that have defeated them and they’ve won easily in Geelong and Hawthorn.

The Cats kicked 19 goals against them, while the Hawks booted 18. The Swans had the best defence last season, conceding the least number of points by 62, but they leaked too much against the Hawks and Cats.

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Their forward line too has also been below par, with Sam Reid producing one decent game in seven against a poor Brisbane in Round 6. The exciting Lewis Jetta is also out of sorts and Adam Goodes is also below his best.

The dual Brownlow Medalist has been the x-factor up front for many seasons, but in the twilight of his illustrious career, it may be asking too much of him to keep doing it nowadays.

Maybe though the x-factor is only four rounds away. The Swans controversial and prized recruit, ex-Crow Kurt Tippett will be available for Sydney after their Round 12 bye.

He will certainly add to the forward line and might give Goodes and Jetta a new lease of life and help Reid go to the next level – he’s shown he can produce.

Reid at the moment generally gets the opposition’s best tall defender and often finds it hard to cope, considering he’s still in the relatively early days of his promising career.

With Tippett in the forward line, surely, that defender will be given the job on him, freeing up Reid slightly.

It’s no doubt been one of the longest pre-seasons in history for a player not injured and it may take Tippett a few weeks to find his range, but he has the ability to get the Swans back on track and keep them there in their quest for back to back flags.

Mind you! when he does return for the second half of the season, the Swans may be just trying to find a spot in the 8, let alone contest a top four vacancy, when you consider their draw over the next month, Fremantle, Collingwood, Essendon and Adelaide.

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On last year’s form, they would start as warm favourites, but as we know a year is an eternity in footy and on the current 2013 model, most of those games are 50/50 propositions.