Sick Swan Smith poised for Rioli remedy
Minding Hawthorn superstar Cyril Rioli would be one of the most testing reintroductions to the AFL after a two-week layoff with illness.
But Rioli's lightning speed and innate ability to kick game-changing remarkable goals might well be the medicine awaiting Sydney defender Nick Smith in Launceston on Sunday.
Smith, who has missed the Swans' past two matches due to a severe inner ear infection that left him struck with vertigo, trained well on Wednesday and is considered a good chance to return on the weekend.
"I think if he's not over it (vertigo), he certainly might have a case of it after playing on Cyril," Swans coach John Longmire joked.
Smith manned Rioli last season and knows the livewire's sensational skills well - having been a former schoolmate at Melbourne's Scotch College, where the pair played together in 2005 and 2006.
However, one suspects Rioli's strong performance in the two sides' most recent meeting - last year's semi-final which the Hawks won by 36 points - might be weighing more on Smith's mind.
There's no guarantee Smith will play against the Hawks on Sunday, but the early signs are positive and Longmire is hopeful he and Lewis Roberts-Thomson, who has missed two weeks with a broken cheekbone, will be named on Thursday in an extended squad.
"Nick's case was unusual - getting over vertigo - so we don't know how he'll react to that," he said.
"But he trained last week and trained really well. He's done all he needs to do so far, so he's coming along pretty well."
Ruckman Shane Mumford will miss the match but, with co-captain Adam Goodes returning from suspension and breaking the club's games record, Longmire could be in the unenviable position of making three changes to the side that eased past North Melbourne.
"We're - hopefully - looking forward to having that debate later on this week if both of those players are OK," he said.
"Because what was exciting from our point of view is that all the players who have been brought into this team over the last few weeks have been able to come in and play a really good role for us.
"If you look at Mark Seaby, Tony Armstrong, Andrejs Everitt - his pressure skills were fantastic, particularly when Gary Rohan went off."
Goodes will this weekend pass Michael O'Loughlin's tally of 303 games for Sydney.
Longmire praised the dual Brownlow Medallist's leadership and character, noting Goodes' usual selfless nature hadn't been impacted by the occasion.
"He's actually just looking forward to playing. Obviously missing last week when the boys had a really good win, he's just keen as anything to get out there and play," he said.
"But it is a significant moment for him to be the game's record holder, particularly taking over from probably his best mate Michael O'Loughlin.
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