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Sam and Ted's excellent adventure

Sam Reid.

Sam Reid. Photo: Getty Images

SYDNEY coach John Longmire has done a fine job in his short two-year tenure in the hot seat. But can he steer his team to a premiership flag tomorrow? The bookies and popular opinion think not. I think he can, but so much of the end result will depend on the form, fitness and confidence of two key Swans. They are tall forward Sam Reid and All-Australian centre half-back Ted Richards.


The 20-year-old has had a lean season in a team that has played so well. Last week's return of four disposals and no goals against Collingwood was very disappointing. In fact, in the two finals Reid has played this year he has taken just the one mark inside forward 50.

Ted Richards.

Ted Richards. Photo: Getty Images

The boy from the bush played just one senior game in his debut season of 2010, but he arrived with a bang the year after.

In 2011 Reid's skinny body, with the long arms and sticky fingers, impressed the footy world as he pulled in over 100 marks. The fact that half of them were in contested situations in the forward half made it special. Reid was going to be a star. His ability to take pack marks was unique. He had a fantastic vertical leap, could launch from the side, front and back, and has the ability to pluck the ball from the reach of others.

The Swans signed Reid to a five-year contract, such was the confidence in him. Unfortunately, that confidence hasn't been matched by his confidence in himself. This season the marks have dried up, dropping from an average of five a game to three. His average disposal count per game sits at just nine.

Watching Reid play, one thing stands out. He just doesn't fly for enough marks. He is picking and choosing his attacks on the ball.

The Swans are a long-kicking team who put plenty of high balls into their forward line, so the opportunities are there for Reid to show his aerial skills. Too often he hesitates, allows a bump to put him off balance, or waits for the perfect leading space to open up.

Well, tomorrow there won't be too many perfect opportunities. Reid has to fly for everything.

An old coach of mine told me, as a young forward, that the more marks you go for the more you will get. Simple, but true. Tomorrow, the young fellow has to play with reckless abandon. He has to cover enormous ground and have such a strong focus on the footy that bumps, knees, elbows and trips don't even register, such is his intent on winning the ball.

He should be buoyed by the fact that the Hawthorn defence is vulnerable to tall-marking forwards. In the first week of the finals, Collingwood's Travis Cloke bagged six goals against the Hawks and last week, Crows pair Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker each kicked four.

Last year, Geelong's Tom Hawkins ''arrived'' on the centre stage at the MCG on football's biggest day. Can Sam Reid do the same?


Most know the Ted Richards story. Nice lad, private school, played some handy football as a flighty forward for the Bombers in his 33-game, four-year career. But deep down, it was thought he didn't have the grunt to be a top liner.

So he goes to Sydney in 2006, and Paul Roos realises there's a lot to like. In fact, Roosy sees a bit of himself in young Ted. The boy from Xavier College is tall, athletic, can cover the ground and, above all, is an exceptionally good overhead mark. Roos decides to teach him how to play as a defender. Richards plays in the losing 2006 grand final, but significantly he plays well.

Since then, slowly but surely, Richards has matured into one of the game's best tall defenders. Now he takes on the opposition's best. Week in, week out he stands Matthew Pavlich, Cloke, Jack Riewoldt, Hawkins and Drew Petrie. Players who can do that are invaluable to their side.

Now Richards leads the best defensive six in the business. On average they concede just 74 points a game. At 29 and with 180 games to his credit, the ex-Bomber is in career-best form.

He has taken the most marks for his team, won the most contested ball in the back half and has a disposal efficiency of 82.4 per cent, which is his team's best.

But figures don't mean anything. It's hard to measure courage and will. If you could, Richards would set the benchmark for the Swans. In last week's preliminary final, he was smashed early on in the first quarter when he headed back into Alex Fasolo, who was coming through full steam. Richards didn't flinch, took the hit and badly rolled an ankle when he landed awkwardly. The defender looked done and dusted as they escorted him from the ground.

But within five minutes, he was back. He couldn't accelerate, couldn't jump, but he was determined to play his role. Playing in pain, Richards blocked the paths of Cloke and Chris Dawes. Neither could get any rhythm into their games as Richards choked their space in his selfless way. At game's end, the All-Australian hobbled from the ground hurt, but happy.

For the Swans to win tomorrow, it is vital that Richards be close to full fitness because he will have the toughest assignment of all. He has to restrain Lance Franklin. They have played against each other twice this year. In round five in Launceston, when Sydney won, Franklin was kept goalless. In round 22 at the SCG, when the Hawks rallied late to win by seven points, Franklin kicked four goals.

If Richards can limit Franklin to two goals or less, take intercept marks and launch effective defensive rebounds, his team may well take its fifth premiership cup.


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AFL 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
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Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
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WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
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MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
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Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
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Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
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Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
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Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
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GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
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WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
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Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
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FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
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NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
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CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
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Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
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SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
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HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
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MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
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CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
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Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
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Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
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Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
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Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
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