Sydney’s back six have the muscle to combat high-flying Hawthorn forward Cyril Rioli, says coach John Longmire.
Rioli was outstanding against Port Adelaide last week on return from leave to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
On top of his spectacular leap, that would have been mark of the year had it been paid, the 26-year-old also kicked three goals in the Hawks’ 22-point win and had a hand in another.
Defender Nick Smith will likely get the job on Rioli when the Swans face the reigning premiers at the SCG in Thursday night’s top-of-the-table clash.
Smith kept the gun forward to one goal and 11 touches in round nine’s 14-point win.
But Rioli, who will play the match on his 27th birthday, has booted 14 majors in his past five games – a statistic not lost on Longmire.
“He’s an absolute star,” Longmire said.
“We saw Rioli play a really competitive style last week, he was up and about from the first bounce.
“He’s one of their many stars – they’ve got plenty of them.
“He’s an important player but we feel as though our back six have done a pretty good job this year. They’ve been fairly consistent.
“But, as always, the battle starts in the middle of the ground and that’s where we need to get our hands on it.”
If the Swans can overcome the Hawks for a second time this season they’ll go top of the ladder again, while a loss could see them slide out of the top four.