AFL: Swans sweat on Papley hamstring scare

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Tom Papley, Paddy McCartin and Stephen Coniglio all emerged as stories out of the GWS Giants-Sydney Swans practice game at Albury

Sydney is sweating on Tom Papley’s fitness after the gun goalkicker exited Friday night’s practice match against the Giants early with a sore left hamstring.

The All-Australian forward didn’t make it to quarter-time at Lavington Sports Ground but the Swans say pulling him out was a precautionary move and will assess him in the coming days.

The Giants led for most of the night – after Swans co-captain Luke Parker slotted the opening major – and showed off several avenues to goal in a pleasing sign without Toby Greene.

Leon Cameron’s men eventually won 18.18 (126) to 13.17 (95).

Jarrod Brander kicked a game-high five goals and Jake Riccardi helped himself to three, while co-captain Stephen Coniglio was busy in the centre in an encouraging effort after two tough seasons.

Sydney will be delighted with pre-season recruit and 2014 No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin, who gobbled up marks at will down back in a promising display.

McCartin’s intercepting ability seems a neat fit next to brother Tom and All-Australian Dane Rampe, particularly with Lewis Melican not yet ready to play.

Both teams missed key personnel but there was still a good dose of star power, including Lance Franklin playing the first three of six quarters.

Franklin, who will start the season five goals shy of 1000 for his career, kicked his sole major from a free kick right before calling it a night.

Phil Davis went head-to-head with Franklin from the first bounce until the Swans superstar left the game and did an excellent job.

GWS ruckman Kieren Briggs went off late after a heavy collision with Sydney’s Callum Sinclair (concussion), after which he spent an extended period on the ground.

Callum Mills (Achilles), Joel Amartey (groin) and Colin O’Riordan (head knock) were among the absent Swans, while Jacob Hopper (knee), Sam Taylor (facial injury) and Tanner Bruhn (hip) were out for the Giants.

WHO STARRED

GWS Giants

No one enhanced their prospects more than Jake Riccardi, who kicked three goals in a variety of ways. Was thrown around last year, from the forward line to the wing and even defence, but never produced like he did in 2020. Might be set for a bounce-back campaign.

Coniglio was influential, especially early, in the middle, while Lachie Whitfield was typically good across half-back.

Any doubt about Davis being in the Giants’ best defensive set-up were wiped with his assured effort, especially on Franklin. Xavier O’Halloran ran hard on the wing and is another fighting for a best-22 spot, but another showing like Friday night should get him there for Round 1.

Sydney

Young guns Errol Gulden and Chad Warner were impressive as usual. Gulden’s ball-winning ability and smarts stood out, while Warner’s toughness – including a bump that set up an Ollie Florent goal – and speed make him a valuable asset.

McCartin’s marking from the get-go would have excited the Swans’ coaching staff as they look for more depth in defence, and Parker was good in the middle in his game time.

MAGNETS MOVED

GWS Giants

Not much to see here, but the Giants got a look at Whitfield, Harry Perryman and Isaac Cumming together down back and would be pleased with the results.

Sydney

Tom McCartin, who started his AFL career in attack before settling in defence, went forward in the fourth term after Franklin went off. Fellow swingman Sam Reid also kicked a long goal after coming on in the final quarters despite preparing for a defensive role this year.

RECRUIT/DRAFTEE WATCH

GWS Giants

First-round draftee Leek Aleer was the Giants’ eye-catcher, with his athleticism on show with several high leaps. One of his early touches came after one such leap before he gathered at ground level, showed good composure to shake his opponent, then cleared the Sherrin from defence.

Fellow draftees Finn Callaghan, Josh Fahey and Cooper Hamilton played only the last two quarters.

Ex-Eagle Jarrod Brander entered the game in the third quarter and finished with five goals – three of them cheapies at the end – to kick off his Giants career in a positive manner.

Sydney

There was a definite tick for Swans newcomers McCartin and Peter Ladhams.

McCartin switched into defence in the VFL last year and looks a natural down there with his knack for reading the play, while Ladhams kicked two goals in a forward-ruck role in support of Tom Hickey. Ladhams’ ability to be impactful in attack will be important in whether Sydney can carry two big men in the same side.

Sydney’s top draft pick from last year, Angus Sheldrick, also slotted two goals.

ROUND 1 BOLTERS

GWS Giants

Riccardi did what he could to force his way into Leon Cameron’s thinking. With Greene to miss the first five rounds of the season serving suspension, the Giants could opt to play three talls in attack. Jesse Hogan and Harry Himmelberg have sewn up two of those, but Riccardi could join them on Friday night’s form.

Brander and ruckman Braydon Preuss, who had a horror debut season for the Giants with injury, will also be in that mix. Preuss had a couple of set shots in the fifth quarter.

Sydney

McCartin and Ladhams are the obvious ones. Coach John Longmire might already have pencilled the former Saint in, on what he’s done this summer and his quality performance on Friday night. The Swans worked hard to bring Ladhams over, so he is a likely starter, too. Dylan Stephens will hope to be around the mark in his third season as well.

Originally published as AFL: Sydney Swans unsure on severity of Tom Papley’s hamstring issue as GWS Giants take honours in Albury


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