Sydney coach John Longmire identifies GWS Giants’ stoppage prowess and former Swans ruckman Shane Mumford as key threats in Saturday’s AFL qualifying final derby clash.
Maiden finalists GWS head the league in stoppages and clearances, with the minor-premiership winning Swans second and third in those areas respectively.
A 2012 premiership-winner with Sydney, Mumford has been a rock in the Giants ruck, notching career-best figures for hitouts and tackles this season.
Mumford was squeezed out of Sydney when the Swans stumped up big money to acquire Lance Franklin, but Longmire remains both an admirer and a wary opponent.
“His (Mumford’s) presence around the contest is enormous, he’s a very good contested mark,” Longmire said.
“He’s a smart footballer, a really smart player.”
Longmire stressed GWS had other threats with Stephen Coniglio, Callan Ward and Dylan Shiel strong in the clearance department and a host of strong forwards.
“(Rory) Lobb’s contested marking ability has been huge this year and we’ve seen (Jon) Patton particularly over the last couple of weeks, be really strong up in the front half and taking marks and kicking goals,” Longmire said.
“Stevie J has been a fantastic addition to them, both by hitting the scoreboard, but also giving them real confidence, particularly finals confidence.
“They go in with their tails up, I’m sure.”
Longmire said Franklin had really enjoyed his year after missing out on finals in 2015 with a mental health issue.
“He’s had a super year and we’re looking forward to hopefully a big week or two ahead of him,” Longmire said.
He brushed off the suggestion Sydney were under greater pressure because they were the more established finalist of the two sides, saying both teams had plenty to gain and lose.
He suggested Sydney were unlikely to make many changes to their side for the ANZ Stadium clash following their 113-point final round rout of Richmond.
One expected change is the return from a calf injury of classy half-back and Rising Star award favourite Callum Mills.
Longmire said defender Zak Jones and midfielder Dan Robinson, both of whom lost their place in the side through long term-injury, would each need another game in Sunday’s NEAFL grand final against GWS to push for a recall, after each made his comeback in the reserves last weekend.
He said key forward Sam Reid and ruckman Callum Sinclair were both running well, but wasn’t sure if either would be ready to play in the NEAFL game.