Good morning everyone, it's Friday already and it's time for another instalment of your favourite Sydney Swans weekend preview podcast, the SwansCast Extra.
Usually we record these around 7pm on Thursday nights, edit them straight away and have them on the net by 9.30 - 10pm. Sometimes, things don't quite go to plan, just like the Swans' season.
It's hard to preview a match when the Swans are struggling as much as they are. They've hardly been competitive since the bye, except of course for their last gasp victory against North Melbourne, and they certainly haven't been convincing.
Injuries to Sam Naismith and Kurt Tippett before the season started was always going to be an issue as the season wore on, but to follow it up with Sam Reid for the second season in his last three, lasting less than a full game before missing the entire season through injury, was a bitter pill to swallow.
News that Franklin injured his heel against the Eagles in round one was like pouring hot sauce into an open wound, while Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker, Kieren Jack and Josh Kennedy all struggled for fitness early on.
It looked like things had finally been sorted out after round 6; a few impressive wins on the board, especially away from home, gave the fans and pundits hope for a Swans challenge. Beating the Eagles in Round 13 was great - it certainly was satisfying to beat the overrated bunch from the West.
And then the post-bye form, in between 5.20am starts and watching while driving across California, the less said about the form the better. Which leads us into Collingwood this weekend. They've certainly rocketed back up the ladder and have played great football, but have been rather lucky at times.
Luck is a finicky thing, it punishes Collingwood's list depth and lays out their small forwards, yet it rarely hurts them where they can least afford it. Compare it to the Swans and just about the only fit players in the sides' spine is Aliir Aliir and Dane Rampe. Take Brodie Grundy out of their team, who really should be the walk-up start All Australian ruckman, and they instantly struggle.
Apply the same injuries the Swans have to the Pies list, and there's an immediate and dramatic shift of form. You can only play with the hand you've been dealt, and like almost every season since 2012, the Swans have been beaten blue and bloody with the injury card.
The great news of the week is that Alex Johnson is finally back for the Swans. After almost six years in football wilderness, through five knee reconstructions and 12 surgeries, the once-emerging defender returns to face the Pies. His second last AFL game was the 2012 preliminary final against them, so no doubt there will be a lot of emotion as he runs out on the field.
Irony isn't without a sense of cruel justice. After the high's of Wednesday's announcement, the Swans dropped a bomb in the hearts of all Swans fans alike, announcing that Heath Grundy will miss football indefinitely due to mental health concerns. We wish him all the best and we can't wait to see him play again when he's ready to.
In this weeks’ show, I'm joined by SwansCast regular, Joshua Maher. We preview the Swans match against the Pies, discuss Alex Johnson and Heath Grundy, talk about what we're looking forward to, match-ups, key points, team changes, and give the weekend forecast.
It’s another great episode, so give it a listen, send us feedback, and if you love it, chuck us a review on Facebook or Whooskaa, our podcast platform.
Enjoy the week and the episode! As always, hit us up on social media using the tag @theswansblog, or the hash tag #SwansCast and #SwansCastExtra.
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Enjoy the podcast and more to come this weekend.
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