Swans' Richards ready for Franklin
The "one game at a time" mantra just doesn't hold up when you're preparing to lock horns with Hawthorn's AFL superstar Lance Franklin.
Sydney fullback Ted Richards finds himself in that unenviable position ahead of Sunday's clash in Launceston, and he's happy to acknowledge stopping the goal-machine is not just another assignment.
"He's probably the biggest challenge for me in football, just because he's got attributes - well he doesn't really seem to have weaknesses," Richards told AAP.
"He's got endurance. He's got speed. He's got great skill. He's a good mark too.
"You really do need the help of all your teammates for support when you're playing on him, just because of those strengths."
Swans coach John Longmire can only agree, suggesting key defenders Richards, Heath Grundy and Alex Johnson will all spend time minding Franklin on the weekend.
"I think it's too big a job - I couldn't say to one of the boys the night before that they'd be on him for the whole game. They might not sleep," Longmire said.
"I think that all of them will probably have to have a go at some point."
The Swans have enjoyed their best start to a season since 1998 with four wins on the trot, but the weekend could be an early indicator of what they might be capable of this year.
"To date (it'll be) the biggest test we've had," Richards said.
"They play really good football in Tassie ... and it's our first time going down there.
"That combined with the fact they're a really good team everywhere."
The Hawks downed Sydney by 36 points in the two sides' most recent clash - last year's semi-final at the MCG - and victory in Tasmania would suggest they've come a fair way since that game.
"We really do feel like we've improved (since that final)," Richards said.
"We've got some confidence.
"We'll take some positives out of that game ... and look at things that didn't work out.
"But also that was last year. Most of the focus will be on this year - how they've been going and we've been going."
Curbing the influence of Franklin was a crucial part of Geelong and West Coast's wins over the Hawks this season, but Richards knows it's not that simple.
"They've got some star players, but I wouldn't think if we're to shutdown one player that would mean that we'd win."
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