Sydney have the AFL’s leading goalkicker in Lance Franklin, but Swans’ midfield star Dan Hannebery rates Jarrad Waite as the form forward of the competition and North Melbourne as favourites against the Swans at the SCG on Friday.
The 9-0 Kangaroos have supplemented their six Etihad Stadium wins with two on the road against the struggling Queensland clubs and a close shave against Melbourne in Hobart.
A clash with the fourth-placed Swans, who are 4-0 at the SCG this season, looms as their toughest examination yet.
“They are clearly the best team in the competition so far,” Hannebery said on Thursday.
“I think Jarrad Waite is the in-form forward of the competition and their midfield is pretty dangerous.
“They are quite a well-drilled side and we’re certainly going to be up against it tomorrow night.”
Hannebery was diplomatic when asked if he had told Franklin that Waite was going better than him.
“They are both different forwards,” he said.
“I think Jarrad plays more as a lead-up and is quite agile and he can jump really high and take amazing contested marks.
“Buddy has got that speed factor, so they are both quality forwards but they play different games.”
Franklin needs three goals on Friday to draw level in 14th spot overall in VFL/AFL history on 746 with former Swan, Saint and Bulldog Barry Hall.
Hannebery stressed the Swans had a number of different targets up forward, while acknowledging it was tempting to always look for Franklin first.
“Another one that bobs up is Isaac Heeney, he’s so clean overhead that when you are in the midfield you know he’s probably going to take a mark eight times out of ten,” Hannebery said.
Kangaroos coach Brad Scott is acutely aware of the threat posed by second-year star Heeney.
“Franklin’s obviously a really dominant player but I think Isaac Heeney is as good a young player as there is in the competition at the moment,” Scott said.
“They’ve got a lot of weaponry up there and we’re going to have to be at our best to combat that.”
Despite North’s impeccable record, Scott insists they haven’t hit their peak yet.
“We still haven’t played our best footy but I felt last week was a step towards that,” Scott said.
“(The Swans) are playing really good footy, they’re a pretty formidable opponent at the best of times, it’s going to be a really good challenge but one that we’re up for.”
The best on ground will receive the inaugural Goodes-O’Loughlin Medal named after Swans champions Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin, who will both be present.