AFL: Sydney Swans ruckman Peter Ladhams a confirmed starter to face his old side Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval
There is only one certainty early in the week about the ruck puzzle for Sydney and Port Adelaide – Swans recruit Peter Ladhams will face his old side on Saturday.
Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess what either team is going to do.
Sydney coach John Longmire said on Tuesday that ex-Power big man Ladhams would make the trip to Adelaide Oval as he weighs up potentially playing two ruckmen.
Tom Hickey (toe) is on track to return at AFL or VFL level this weekend but the Swans will welcome back superstar Lance Franklin (suspension) to a forward line that functioned well without him against Melbourne before the bye.
Joel Amartey is the likeliest tall player to make way, with Ladhams a confirmed starter and Sam Reid and Logan McDonald fresh from strong individual performances.
The other complication is Port Adelaide’s No.1 ruckman Scott Lycett (shoulder) remains sidelined and the Power dropped Sam Hayes last week in favour of makeshift big men Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie Dixon.
“I’m not quite sure what our plan is this week, so I’ve probably got to work that out first before I work out what Port is doing,” Longmire said.
“I really don’t know. They’ve gone last week with a different ruck set-up, so we’re not quite sure what we get in that space. What I do know is we will plan for whatever comes our way and get that done.
“There are some teams playing two rucks, some with one ruck and some without a ruck, according to the circumstances, so everyone’s going with different tactics.”
Harry Cunningham (abdominal) and Colin O’Riordan (concussion) are also set to be available, with a squeeze suddenly on for positions in a Sydney side that chased down Melbourne and Richmond – and almost Carlton before that.
But Longmire, back from a few relaxing days at his Balldale farm, on the NSW-Victorian border, is wary about the challenge the resurgent Power presents, even after two losses in the past three weeks.
That’s not surprising, given Port Adelaide has beaten Longmire’s Swans five times in a row, including three at Adelaide Oval.
“We’ve gotten into (planning for) Port very quickly. They’re, since round 6, the No.1 defence in the competition, and they’re 5-2 since that time,” he said.
“So after a slower start to the year; they’ve been playing some fantastic, competitive footy, so that sharpens up your mentality very quickly and over in Adelaide as well.
“There’s a number of things we’re looking at that we’re mindful of and respectful of how Port Adelaide has been going.”
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