Aiming for four … fear the SCG, says Dan Hannebery. Photo: Steve Christo
WITH the amount of rain that has hit Sydney over the past week, there could already be a moat around the SCG, and perhaps fittingly because Swans midfielder Dan Hannebery says his team want to turn the venue back into a fortress.
Having won seven of eight games there in 2010, last season was a major disappointment for the Swans at home - four wins and four losses. The ground interstate teams once hated visiting because of its smaller dimensions suddenly was not so terrifying.
''Four and four, it's not good enough,'' Hannebery said. ''Before last year, we felt the SCG was a real fortress for us. It had been for years. Teams haven't liked coming up here and playing against us at this ground and we feel this year we want to make a real stand. We made a good impression against Fremantle (winning their only SCG game this season two weeks ago) and we want to keep that going.
''North Melbourne are up and about but if we make a statement this week by beating North, it will go a long way to making the SCG a fortress again and somewhere visiting teams won't like to come.'' Having beaten the defending premiers, Geelong, last week, Hannebery knows the Kangaroos will be a massive test for the Swans at the SCG this afternoon, but a win would give them the best start to a season in more than a decade.
If they can win their fourth game in as many matches, it would be just the third time since 1945 that the club have started a season 4-0. In 1986, they won their first six, and in 1998 when they won their first five.
But, while they have won their first three games, it hasn't been without a few hiccups as they suffered a bad quarter against each of their three opponents.
''It's been a little bit of an issue for the last couple of weeks not being able to play four quarters,'' Hannebery said. ''We're building to that and we feel we have some systems in place to see us play consistent footy for four quarters.
''Those 10 or 15 minute lapses aren't good enough because it gives teams a sniff and North are good enough that if we give them a sniff, they will take it. This week we are prepared for a full four quarter effort and if we do that, on this ground, we feel it should go along way towards a win.''
Hannebery was among Sydney's best with 36 possessions in their win over Port Adelaide last weekend. It came after a scratchy start to the season, brought about by an interrupted pre-season. Having overcome successful shoulder surgery, Hannebery was hit with a knee problem while running in January, which would also require surgery.
''It was a bit of cartilage that broke off,'' he explained. ''It hadn't given me much pain, but there was a clicking in my knee and every time I kicked the ball it clunked. They got in and took it out, and I got back into rehab. I was lucky it didn't happen too late in the pre-season. I was definitely underdone in round one, but I feel I'm not far away from full fitness now.''
While he has only just turned 21, Hannebery is in his fourth season with the Swans, having made his debut while still attending school. ''It's gone pretty quick,'' he said.