Swans to treat Suns game like AFL final

Sydney co-captain Jarrad McVeigh is expected to be fit for the AFL finals despite withdrawing from Saturday’s home clash with Gold Coast, which the Swans have pledged to treat like a finals match.

Veteran McVeigh has some minor calf soreness and will be replaced in the side by Dean Towers.

“We have elected to take a conservative approach with him ahead of Saturday night’s match,” Swans general manager of football Tom Harley said.

“At this stage, we expect him to be available for the first week of the finals.”

A win at the SCG guarantees Sydney of finishing no lower than fourth, irrespective of what happens in the other final-round fixtures.

The Suns, coached by former Swans mentor Rodney Eade, have lost all five previous games against the Swans, never getting closer than 35 points.

After losing 14 of their past 16 games, the injury ravaged Suns have enjoyed slightly more success in the past five rounds.

They beat fellow stragglers Brisbane and Essendon and drew with competition heavyweights West Coast, but lost all nine games outside Queensland this season.

Gold Coast languish in 16th place on the ladder with just four wins, but the Swans are determined not to fall into the trap of taking them lightly.

“No, not at all – we spoke about it during the week and we’re treating it as a finals match a week early,” Swans forward Brandon Jack told AAP on Friday.

“Because they are a really strong contested footy team and that’s what finals football is, so it’s a great opportunity for us to come in and practise that part of the game.”

McVeigh, defender Nick Smith and midfielder Luke Parker are the only injured regulars missing from the Swans’ team, with coach John Longmire opting not to rest anyone.

“Realistically, Sydney are playing at home and they’ve got a full-strength side just about. It’s going to be a difficult task,” Eade said on Friday.

“We’ll try some different things and, if the effort and work ethic is there, you never know what could happen.”

Sydney appear to be lifting at the right time, having won their past three games and kicking 20 goals in their 89- and 97-point thrashings of GWS and St Kilda respectively.

“We had those few bad losses and I think we responded really strongly,” Jack said.

“We didn’t hide – we were honest with each about who needed to lift and what needed to improve.

“I think our talls have definitely made a big impact the past few weeks, with Sam Reid, Kurt Tippett and Mike Pyke – they have been instrumental in our form.”

Longmire plans to give forwards Lance Franklin and Gary Rohan more game time in each man’s second match back from injury.

Gold Coast have recalled defenders Trent McKenzie and the retiring Greg Broughton in place of Harley Bennell (calf) and Clay Cameron (concussion).

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