Rugby League

‘He will be bigger and better for it’: Swans rally around dropped McDonald

Forward Tom Papley says the Swans have rallied around hard-luck story Logan McDonald but have backed his replacement to thrive against Geelong in Saturday’s AFL grand final.

McDonald, despite playing 17 games this year, including the finals, has become the latest grand-final heartbreak story, with Hayden McLean drafted in for his first senior game since round eight – having played in all games to that point. This included a strong performance against the Cats in round two.

McLean can go forward and help Tom Hickey in the ruck, giving the Swans options against one of the league’s best defences. However, players were quick to provide McDonald with emotional support, although he could be a late replacement if Sam Reid’s injured groin is considered too much of a risk.

“I am pretty close with ‘Brucey’ [McDonald], he is a young kid. It’s unfortunate for him, but his attitude towards this week has been great. I am sure he will be bigger and better for it,” Papley said on Friday.

“We got around him, it’s a tough time. There is always one story in a grand final, and he was one of them. It’s tough for him, he is a 19-year-old kid, but I am sure this will make him bigger and better. He is a massive part of our future and I look forward to our future with him.”

Papley will have a key role to play if the Swans are to claim their first premiership in a decade. The clever small forward knows how to antagonise opponents, but it’s on the scoreboard where he does his most damage.

“I will see if it [the verbal barbs] comes or not. It comes naturally, instincts and adrenaline takes over. There will be a fair bit of adrenaline tomorrow, the crowd will be up. I look forward to it,” he said.

More to come

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