NEAFL grand final offers chances for Swans

Sydney coach John Longmire will use Sunday’s NEAFL grand final to look at potential replacements for Callum Mills, with three defenders likely to come under consideration.

Mills looks certain to miss next Saturday’s semi-final against Adelaide and possibly any other finals matches the Swans might play this year, afer injuring a hamstring in Saturday’s qualifying final loss to GWS Giants.

Longmire wasn’t sure how long Rising Star winner Mills would be sidelined for, but anything more than a low level strain would surely end his season.

Veterans Ted Richards and Jeremy Laidler and emerging youngster Zak Jones are all listed to start in the Swans’ back six in Sunday’s match at Blacktown International Sports Park.

Richards is a key position player, Laidler can play on talls and smalls and Jones offers run out off the half-back line.

Laidler and Richards were among Sydney’s best in their NEAFL preliminary win last weekend and Jones looked sharp in his first match back from an ankle injury.

“If Callum doesn’t play with his hamstring there’s obviously an opportunity there as well,” Longmire said when asked about the significance of the NEAFL game, especially in the aftermath of Mills’s injury.

“They will get a good crack at it and we’ll then be able to reassess with the numbers for next week and obviously there will be at least one change.”

Laidler was an emergency for Saturday’s match and started the Swans first 12 games of the season.

He missed the round 13 clash with Melbourne due to a knee soreness, returned the following week against Western Bulldogs, but was omitted after that match and hasn’t featured in the Swans last nine fixtures.

Richards has played just eight games in his final season before retiring but hasn’t appeared in the senior side since round 17 and that was in an unfamiliar forward role.

The 33-year-old will be keen to add at least one more game to his tally of 261 appearances, though Longmire has made it clear in recent weeks form rather than sentiment will dictate whether the popular defender gets another senior game.

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