The winds of change continue to sweep through Sydney with Heath Grundy left out of the Swans’ team to face Gold Coast, casting doubt on the veteran defender’s future.
The Swans have named skipper Josh Kennedy despite concerns over a back problem and picked young ruckman Darcy Cameron to make his league debut but could find no room for Grundy.
Rested last week against North Melbourne, the backline stalwart was unable to force his way back into the team and, barring a last-minute change, will instead line up in the curtain-raiser.
It’s believed Grundy has not played in the reserves since 2008 when he was being tried as a forward by former coach Paul Roos.
With Grundy, Jarrad McVeigh, Dan Hannebery and Kieren Jack all missing, the Swans are again fielding one of their most inexperienced teams during the John Longmire era.
The Swans will start overwhelming favourites for the match against the 17th-placed Suns, which, on paper at least, looms as a golden opportunity for them to boost their percentage.
Grundy, who comes out of contract at the end of the season, is facing a big fight to stay on the Swans list. The club will be looking to give more opportunities to Aliir Aliir and Lewis Melican, who has been injured for much of the year.
Grundy had one of his best campaigns last year but after a limited pre-season is struggling against more mobile forwards.
Since the bye, the 32-year-old was comprehensively beaten by Jack Riewoldt and had his colours lowered again by Tom Hawkins.
It’s understood he was left out for team balance this week, which means his chances of returning now hinge on whether the opposition has a big forward who relies more on strength than athleticism.
Longmire showed in 2014 with Ryan O’Keefe and again in 2016 with Ted Richards that he is prepared to make the tough call on club favourites.
Kennedy had been under a fitness cloud since his match last week was prematurely ended by back spasms. Despite not training fully on Thursday, he is likely to play provided he pulls up well on Friday.
“He didn’t start training but that was always the plan,” Swans coach Longmire said. “He went for a run, felt really good then was able to finish off the training drills.
“If he pulls up well we expect him to play.”
Cameron, who turned 23 this week, comes in at the expense of Dan Robinson, who has been dropped for a fourth time this season.
The big man, who has starred at reserves level this year, booked his spot in the team after collecting 28 disposals and three goals last week. He is likely to provide relief to Callum Sinclair, who has shouldered the bulk of the ruck duties all year.
“He’s been playing in our reserves for quite a while and playing to a high, consistent level,” Longmire said. “He can mark the ball as a tall forward or he can go on-ball and play in the ruck as well. He’s got some versatility about him and he’s really earned his spot which is good for him.”
Meanwhile, veteran Ryan Griffen will miss Greater Western Sydney’s vital clash with Port Adelaide due to hamstring soreness.
The Giants have named Brett Deledio on an extended bench but will wait until Friday before making a call on whether he returns after after nearly three months out.
“He certainly put his hand up for selection in the NEAFL last week, so we’ll monitor how he pulls up from main training and then it will be a good problem to have for our match committee,” Giants coach Leon Cameron said.
“Griff pulled up a little sore in his hamstring after last week’s game so it’s not one we’re going to risk.
“Port are a quality side and we know we need our 22 at their best to get over the line against them in Adelaide.”