The ‘scintillating’ young forward line talent Sydney has rolled out in 2021 is enough for Richmond coach Damien Hardwick to know the days of having too much focus on Lance Franklin are over.
The veteran Swans superstar returned to football last weekend with three goals in his team’s win over Adelaide, helping delivering an undefeated start to the season.
But it was the emergence of some unheralded youngsters, who helped topple Brisbane in the opening which has set tongues wagging about Sydney’s form so far this season.
Both outfits are unbeaten going in to Saturday’s MCG clash, and while Franklin is expected to play, Hardwick isn’t getting lost going down any rabbit-holes when it comes to just stopping Franklin.
The Swans have kicked 27 goals in the opening two rounds, and only three have come from Franklin.
“The easy thing is to concentrate on Buddy and don‘t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful player,” Hardwick said on Thursday
“We‘ve got to have, not so much a Buddy focus but a Sydney Swans forward line focus as they can score goals very quickly.
“It‘s amazing how they have an influx of players – some of their young talent is scintillating.
“You sit there watching the tapes of the first two games they‘ve played and they’re just dynamic the way they go about.
“They move the ball, still through composed possession, but it‘s really, really quick.
“Their forward line is changing, it‘s emerging, it’s really exciting and we’re going to have our work cut out for us so we’ve got to bring pressure and lots of it.”
Five more years of @nickvlastuin.
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Hardwick was forced to call Sydney called Longmire and apologise for his a post-match outburst when the teams met last year.
Only seven goals were kicked and Hardwick claimed the Swans had stacked “75,000 people” in its backline and claimed it led to a “horrendous game of football”.
But the premiership coach said that felt like “six years ago”, that there was no lingering ill-will and he he expected a much better game this week.
“To be fair some of that was our doing, it was just a terrible game of footy all round,” Hardwick said.
“I think both sides at their best it’s going to be a great game … Buddy and Dusty (Dustin Martin) in full flight.”.
Hardwick said defender Bachar Houli is set to return from his calf injury through the VFL but Nick Vlastuin, who just signed a new five-year deal, won’t play as he continues to work on the knee injury which forced him out of the opening round.
He said Jack Ross, who had been a medical sub for two weeks, would go and “play somewhere”.
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