Green ruckman Toby Nankervis will replace Kurt Tippett against Melbourne as the Swans vow to switch the pressure back on following their AFL loss to Greater Western Sydney.
Nankervis has been selected in coach John Longmire’s 22-man squad to play at the SCG on Sunday, edging out fellow reserve-grade big man Sam Naismith for the steep task of stopping Demons star Max Gawn.
The 21-year-old will play his seventh AFL match in support of Callum Sinclair, who’s been thrust into the lead ruck role.
Longmire said the decision came down to match fitness.
“(Nankervis) has got a bit of senior footy behind him now, while Callum Sinclair’s ability to ruck the four quarters has been proven,” he said.
“We’re really confident those two can do the job.
“(Naismith) isn’t far away. He just needs to play a full four quarters in the reserves.”
The Swans were dealt another blow on Friday, with news in-form Tippett will be sidelined for eight weeks instead of six after undergoing hamstring surgery.
Jeremy Laidler was also ruled out of Sunday’s match with a knee injury, while fellow withdrawals Harry Marsh (hamstring) and Harry Cunningham (omitted) were replaced by Aliir Aliir, George Hewett and Dean Towers.
The third-placed Swans want to consolidate their top-four spot against the Demons and draw a line under last weekend’s 42-point loss to the Giants.
Veteran backman Heath Grundy warned the Swans would need to rediscover their high-pressure game against an aggressive outfit boasting the competition’s fifth-highest points tally, despite sitting outside the top eight.
“They’re not holding themselves up at all,” Grundy said.
“They’re definitely attacking when they get the opportunity to go forward – and pretty directly to goal.
“So we’ll have to be on our game with that pressure.”
Sunday’s clash – the Demons’ first visit to the SCG in more than four years – will also mark Grundy’s 200-match milestone.
It’s a “proud moment” that, in a coincidental twist, will be played out against the 30-year-old’s former Swans mentor and now Demons coach Paul Roos.
Grundy credited Roos for kick-starting his senior career, in 2005 elevating the then-youngster from the Swans’ rookie list and shifting him from the forward line into defence, where he prospered.
“I missed two drafts and got rookied up here,” Grundy said.
“Roosy gave me the opportunity to come to an AFL club and try and get into the team.
“I’m grateful for that, definitely.
“He gave me an opportunity to play and stuck with me.”