Sydney’s rookie ruck pairing for their AFL semi-final against Adelaide won’t be overawed by the occasion at the SCG on Saturday night, according to assistant coach Henry Playfair.
The Swans have called up Toby Nankervis to replace Kurt Tippett, who broke his jaw in week one of the finals. Nankervis, who is 22 and has played 11 games, will partner Sam Naismith in the ruck.
Naismith came to the club via the 2013 rookie draft and made his finals debut against Greater Western Sydney. last weekend. It was the 10th game of Naismith’s career. The stakes will be even higher at the SCG, where the Swans’ season will end if they’re unable to defeat Adelaide.
Naismith and Nankervis will confront Crows star Sam Jacobs, who has been one of the league’s best ruckmen this year, and Josh Jenkins. Jacobs and Jenkins boast a combined total of 240 games worth of experience, some 219 more than their counterparts.
“Both of them have played earlier this year and showed what they can do. They are inexperienced but they’re quite mature people, and both really competitive,” Playfair said of Naismith and Nankervis.
“Even when you’re a little bit inexperienced, if you’ve got those other two attributes you can usually hold your own and potentially get on top. “They are fiercely competitive and they’ve got talent, so we expect them to bring that at the SCG.” Off-season recruit Callum Sinclair, who hasn’t played since round 18 because of a knee injury, trained on Tuesday but the Swans opted against rushing the ruckman back into their side. Sinclair and Tippett could both be in the mix to return in Friday night’s preliminary final, should the Swans progress to week three of the finals. Novice ruckman Reilly O’Brien isn’t among Adelaide’s three emergencies for the semi-final but travelled to Sydney on Friday with the squad.
Jenkins has been carrying an ankle injury but the Crows expect he will take the field alongside Jacobs.
“The only time he gets a game is if Sam Jacobs does something in the warm-up or in training,” Crows assistant coach James Podsiadly said.