Sydney defender Dane Rampe has hailed the efforts of the youngest Swans backline in recent memory, but stressed his AFL club’s form is still nowhere near where they want it to be.
The Swans’ defence – including debutant Aliir Aliir, Callum Mills (six games) and Zak Jones (19 games) – helped Sydney secure a hard-earned three-point away win over Brisbane on Sunday that moved them to 5-1 for the season.
With Aliir replacing the club’s most senior back Ted Richards and Jones coming in late for leading small defender Nick Smith, the Swans rearguard was down over 400 games of experience.
They were forced to work hard as lowly-placed Brisbane won the last three quarters and came close to springing a major upset.
“I think that was a good test,” Rampe said.
“We spoke about it before the game. It was a really good opportunity for those boys to have an extra bit of leadership and onus on themselves to really take part while we do have a young group.
“I thought they handled that pretty well to be honest. I think bar maybe one or two instances I reckon as a defensive group we were on top of them most of the day.”
Rampe said key position back Aliir, who played his junior football in Queensland, performed well and was very vocal.
“Early on they were getting stuck into him, but he more than held his own, I think he will be better for the experience,” Rampe said.
“Especially being his home state, a lot of the anxiety and the nervousness came from performing in front of all your friends and family and I think now that is out of the way, we will only see him grow and improve from there.
“Just having him out there was just really special for all the boys because he’s a much loved member of the group.”
The Swans win was set up by a seven-goal first-quarter burst, but Rampe conceded the Swans still had plenty of improvement left.
“We’re nowhere near where we want to be,” he said.
“But what we’ve seen early is that energy and enthusiasm has been really important to us, but there’s still lots to work on.
“On the weekend, putting one quarter of footy together isn’t really what we want to be known for.”