Talking points: Round 15, 2019

We take a look at some of the talking points from the Swans' round 15 win against the Gold Coast Suns at the SCG on Saturday afternoon.

1: Swans ruck depth to be tested
With Darcy Cameron ruled out with a quad injury, and big man Sam Naismith struggling to overcome an ACL injury suffered 18-months ago, Sydney's worst nightmare finally turned to reality on Saturday night, when Callum Sinclair leaving the ground in the first minute clutching his right shoulder.

After ample amount of strapping was added to his injured shoulder, Sinclair returned to the field, immediately returning to the centre circle. In his first ruck contest, he barely got off the ground, while leaving the ground for good minutes later, dislocating the same shoulder again.

The Swans have a serious selection dilemma on their hands, with the Swans hesitant to rush Naismith back, and unwilling to throw the unproved mid-season draftee Michael Knoll into the ruck against Essendon next week.

2: Young Swans lead the way
The Swans have debuted more than 30 players since 2015, with many of those players forming the core of today's team. George Hewett, Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Tom Papley and Aliir Aliir headline the group, while players like Ben Ronke, Oliver Florent, Will Hayward and James Rowbottom continue to steal the limelight.

James Rose, playing his third consecutive game of the season and the most since 2016, is averaging career-best numbers, while James Rowbottom playing in just his fourth career game, finished with 21 disposals and 8 tackles.

3: Vintage Parker a Brownlow smokey?
With expectations high coming into the season, Luke Parker was one of many senior players that started the season off with an audible thud and groan, than a bang. It wasn't long before the faithful turned on the new co-captain, almost demanding his captaincy in the hope it would lead to a turn-around in form.

His surge in form since round 7 has coincided with the Swans' turn around in form, averaging 30 disposals and 12.6 contested possessions per game. While the coaches have twice given him the full 10 votes - Round 8 against Essendon and Round 14 against Hawthorn - this season, he would be hard pressed to miss out on the full 10 votes again this week.

4: Nick Blakey is no push over
Hot off the heels of Franklin demanding he plays in the forward line with the 19-year-old rising star, Blakey's physical ability had an asterisk against it until this weekend, when he ate forearm and knee from Suns giant Jarrod Witts.

While contesting a mark deep inside the Swans forward 50 early in the game, Witts flew back into the pack with the ball, with eyes only on the player, landing his forearm on Blakey's forehead, and knee in the middle of his ribs. Despite his light, athletic frame, Blakey bounced back up from the deck and slotted the goal.

5: Half-time rethink leads to Swans demolition
After trailing at quarter-time in a tight, if not dour contest, both teams flexed their muscles in an entertaining second quarter, with the Swans booting four goals to three. The coaches demanded a return to "basics" at the long break, after the Swans had overused the ball by hand.

Their play-on percentage plummeted, while their use by foot marginally improved along with their ability to hit targets. Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley, quiet in the first half, instantly became hit-up targets, while Will Hayward played higher up the field in the same way Tom Lynch does for the Crows.

6: Swans spread the load in superstar's absence
Lance Franklin is such a dominating presence in the Swans forward line, that midfielders inadvertently use him as their forward half target 40 percent of the time. The once-dreaded forced absence through injury or otherwise, has turned into a boon for the developing Swans, featuring an array of goal-kicking talent.

Forwards Sam Reid, Nick Blakey, Tom Papley and Will Hayward, who've previously prospered in his absence, got in on the action again on Saturday afternoon, while small forward Ben Ronke and midfielder Isaac Heeney joined the party. The Swans' ability to lower their eyes and hit-up targets on the lead in space, is seriously undervalued, but the one thing they rarely do when Franklin is in the side.

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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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