Shouldering the biggest ruck workload of his career, Sydney star Kurt Tippett is relishing his best AFL season start since joining the club from Adelaide.
With Mike Pyke retiring after last season, 28-year-old Tippett has become the Swans’ premier ruck option, forming a strong new combination with ex-West Coast ruckman Callum Sinclair.
He is averaging over twice as many hitouts as Sinclair and is comfortably on track to set a personal season record in that area.
And he has still found time to wander forward and kick 11 goals.
It represents a welcome turnaround for Tippett after problems at the beginning of his three previous seasons at the club.
A suspension prevented him from starting till round 13 in 2013, injury delayed his 2014 debut till round eight and his form was down at the beginning of last season.
He has welcomed the challenge of providing Sydney’s celebrated on-ball division with quality ball.
“I enjoy starting in the middle. There’s something about being in that centre circle for the first bounce of the game,” Tippett said on Tuesday.
I like trying to work with the midfielders and create momentum for the side and get the ball forward and you’re always around the football.
“It’s not bad rucking to guys like Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery and Kieren Jack, they tend to make you look pretty good sometimes.”
Fellow Swans forward Lance Franklin leads the Coleman Medal race with 29 goals and is on track to possibly become the first player to kick 100 in a season since he achieved the feat in 2008.
“It’s pretty cool to think that he could kick a hundred,” Tippett said.
I think he’s in great form and it’s great to see. He’s enjoying his football, he seems really focused, so I don’t think there’s a limit on how many goals he can kick this year, so that’s really exciting.
I think right now he’s in a really good spot.
“He seems really comfortable within himself, he seems happy and really focused and he’s playing a great role for the side, so he’s in great shape.