Sydney’s forward pressure will be key to beating the Western Bulldogs and claiming top spot on the AFL ladder, co-captain Jarrad McVeigh says.
With leaders Hawthorn on a bye, the Swans can reach the summit with a win at the SCG on Saturday.
But McVeigh has warned the heat will be on his team’s forwards to shut down the Bulldogs’ efficient running defence, an effective part of their game despite the absence of creative captain Bob Murphy (knee).
“The forwards play a huge role every week but more so this week,” McVeigh said on Thursday.
“(The Bulldogs have) got a lot of elite ball users who do run the footy out well and have a lot of pace.
“With Bud (Lance Franklin), Gary (Rohan), Ben McGlynn and James Rose up there, chasing those guys down and putting pressure on them will be a huge part of the game for us.
“We value our forward pressure and the work off the ball, and those guys will have to bring that this weekend.”
The midfield battle will be another vital factor, with the Swans leading the league for average contested possessions and the Bulldogs in third.
“It’s going to be a great game – two teams high up on the ladder,” McVeigh said.
“We’ve been watching a lot of their vision, we’ve had both teams coming off the bye and we’ll be raring to go.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a hot start.”
McVeigh will qualify for AFL life membership in his 277th match for the Swans.
Along with his 20 pre-season games and three International Rules appearances he’s set to hit the qualifying 300-mark.
The 31-year-old has been in excellent form despite a belated start to the season, after hamstring tightness delayed his return from off-season knee surgery.
Since his return McVeigh has shown versatility in numerous roles, something he’s happy to continue with.
“The strength of my game has been able to play in different positions,” he said.
“This year I’ve played forward, wing, midfield and defence.
“At this point it’s along the halfback line which I trained for in the pre-season so that’s what I’m really enjoying.
“We’ve got (Zak) Jones and Callum Mills who are playing some really good footy as young players in that area as well.
“They’ve got the ability to play in all different positions as well, which is a real strength of our smaller halfback types.”