Brisbane Lions Round 7 Preview

Update 07/05 @ 12.25 - Aliir is out of the side, replaced by Harry Marsh. This article originally stated that Aliir was playing.

Morning all, the Swans are looking to finally kick start their 2017 campaign, 6 weeks behind everyone else, against the less fancied Brisbane Lions.

The Swans have been playing with snooze mode enabled; they've played well in spurts, but more often than not, it's as if they've been mashing the snooze button into oblivion. Here's hoping they've been taking their cues from Bill Murray and throw it in the bin, or smash it to pieces.

Well, it's a new week, a new team and a new opportunity for the Swans to prove that they're not as bad as Hawthorn. They haven't exactly set the world on fire, more like dumped a bucket of icy cold water on everyone. When opportunities present themselves, especially one like Brisbane Lions, who've been a bit like Sydney this year, you can't just throw it aside.

The Swans have certainly been guilty of letting gilt edged chances slip through their hands this season, dropping winning positions against Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs, as well as coming within a goal of West Coast. Last weeks game against Carlton was particularly difficult to watch. It looked like a team bereft of ideas, down on confidence, and a long way off the Swans' renowned brand of football. Longmire said during the week that it takes a long time to build a brand, but it can be quickly undone, and the Swans are definitely flirting with danger there. Another shocking performance, especially at home, and the daggers will come out.

The Swans were uncharacteristically noisy during the week, with Longmire appearing on Triple M and speaking to the media at the usual Swans weekly press conference in a frank and honest manner, as well as both Parker and Hannebery facing the media and admitting they have to lift. Longmire said that the Swans had lost their ruthless edge and acknowledged that the scrutiny was warranted.

Kennedy's admission was another surprising one after the Swans leaders were criticised for not protecting Callum Mills in the last quarter against the Blues. The biggest surprise was his admission that he didn't know what was happening on the ground, but agreed that criticism was fair, and the Swans simply weren't working hard enough. There was a time and place when the Swans would fly the flag and get physical, but it just hasn't happened this season.

The Swans hold an impressive record against the Brisbane Lions, having beaten them in their last nine encounters since 2010. The Swans have made five changes for the clash, welcoming back Jarrad McVeigh for his first game of the season, as well as exiled defender Aliir Aliir, Dean Towers, Sam Naismith and young forward Oliver Florent. Gary Rohan (concussion), Jeremy Laidler (achilles), Brandon Jack (omit), Nic Newman (omit) and James Rose (omit) make way for the fantastic five.

The Swans are fielding one of their strongest teams of the season so far and it looks like they've struck a balance between experience and youth. While Carlton was criticised for playing too much youth against Port Adelaide, the Swans were younger and less experienced last weekend, and were in fact the fourth youngest team of the round. The Swans have debuted 13 new players since the start of 2016, the most in the league. While they made a grand final last year, and even won the minor premiership, it papered over a lot of cracks in the team.

It's vitally important the Swans get off to a good start. Brisbane are capable of playing good football and they've proven it already this season. A sluggish start, tentative, cagey or just poor like it has been this season, and they're good enough to put the Swans to the sword. It's hard to expect a lot from McVeigh, Aliir and Naismith, given their immediate return to the senior side. They're there, and they have to perform, that's all there is to say. If they aren't good enough, or fit enough, they shouldn't be there. Their selection says they're ready, so all we can do is expect that they'll perform. It'll be a travesty if McVeigh does his hamstring of calf 10 minutes into the 2nd quarter.

Aliir coming straight back in is a no brainer against Hipwood, a tall, young, agile key forward, whose both quick and good above his head.

Aliir is confirmed out of the side

Marsh/Melican vs Eric Hipwood

This will be the most important match up of the match. If the Swans can't slow him down, he'll dominate, either bringing the ball to ground, or clunking them in the forward line. He's an exciting prospect and while he's not the fittest, he definitely has the potential to win matches.

Kennedy vs Zorko

Both players are capable of huge contested numbers and while Kennedy has been down on his career averages, Zorko has picked it up. Have to win it out of the middle

Naismith & Sinclair vs Martin

Martin has been in good form, while Sinclair has struggled in the ruck, he's been working hard around the field. Naismith is returning from injury and won't play a lot of game time, but with his tap work and ability to give first use to the midfielders, it's vitally important he gets on top.

Franklin vs McStay

Franklin has been well down on form lately, with injury but also a midfield that's been well below their best. Delivery has been spare and pretty bad, but playing against a younger, less experience player, he really should dominate him. If McStay gets on top, the Swans will need to find another avenue.

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia

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