North Melbourne skipper Andrew Swallow insists the Kangaroos are strong mentally and physically as they head into their AFL semi-final against Sydney on Saturday night.
Much has been made of how the Roos were able to freshen up tired bodies by resting nine senior players in the final round of the home and away season.
Swallow insists they are also mentally prepared for the ANZ Stadium clash as they chase a first flag since 1999.
The Kangaroos have beaten Sydney just once since 2007 and were thrashed by 71 points in last year’s preliminary final at the same venue.
Swallow said they were better for the experience.
“There are completely different circumstances; I think as a team we’re much better placed to try and get a win up there,” he said.
“Now we’ve been through it the group feels like it’s mentally in a better space and expecting to go deep in September.”
Swallow was one of a number of Roos to under-perform against the Swans last year with only 18 touches in the preliminary final.
As one of the nine who sat out round 23, he said he felt in much better shape in this finals campaign.
“That was part of our thinking a couple of weeks ago when we gave a few of the guys a break.
“I’m definitely feeling much better now than I was at this time last year.”
When the teams met in round 11 this year Sydney held on for a 16-point win but their stars were Luke Parker (33 disposals) and Lance Franklin (four goals) – both of whom will miss the knockout final, along with forward Sam Reid and – probably – co-captain Kieren Jack.
Swallow said the Swans “batted deep” and couldn’t be underestimated even without some of their key weapons.
“They do have key injuries but watching them play on the weekend you wouldn’t have known,” he said.
“Freo were all over them in a pretty hostile environment and they fought it out and had their chances late.
“They just keep rolling different guys in and they get the job done.
“It’s nice not to have some of those guys running around, but I don’t think it’s going to be any easier.”
Swallow said 19-year-old Kayne Turner, who starred in their 2014 elimination final, was a strong chance to come into the side after a head knock in their final round match.
The captain also said he’d like to see Daniel Wells in the sub’s vest despite not having played an AFL game in five months due to injury.
“He’s an exceptional player and the perfect guy to be able to come in and maybe play that sub role and come on in the second half and maybe turn the game,” Swallow said.