Swans on high alert for Hardwick’s rising Suns

Esther Linder |

Damien Harwick has Gold Coast impressing at 3-2 early in his first season at the club.
Damien Harwick has Gold Coast impressing at 3-2 early in his first season at the club.

Sydney are up for a challenge as they look to stymie the rise of Damien Hardwick’s Gold Coast in their home AFL clash on Sunday.

Swans coach John Longmire says Hardwick’s methods have produced a team capable of serious damage since his offseason arrival.

“Their stats are through the roof … their turnovers, their ability to be able to score, everything about their game, fantastic form,” said Longmire of the Suns, who crushed Hawthorn by 53 points on Saturday to go into round six with a 3-2 record.

“They’ve been strong offensively, the forward half turnover .. there’s all areas of the game we’re going to have to be on.

“They’re a talented team but also a team that works really hard, so all those combined mean you need be playing well.

“You’ve got to be prepared to step into those contests and work hard on every facet of your game.”

Sydney ground out a 26-point win over a spirited West Coast during Gather Round and are 4-1 for their season after last weekend’s bye.

Three-time premiership coach Hardwick’s revamp of the Suns’ style and lineup, especially in the midfield has meant some tactical changes for their opponents, Longmire said, without giving too much away. 

“We’ve obviously made some changes to that and we don’t have a rationale for it other than the fact that they’ve got some similarities and some changes, and we’ve looked at that.

“We’ve got to be mindful of what we do as well and understand that we’ve got some strengths and we’ll play to that.”

The status of Sydney’s midfield veteran and former skipper Luke Parker, sidelined after surgery on a broken arm sustained during the pre-season, remains a waiting game. 

“No, he’s not ready to play yet,” Longmire said. 

“It’s taking a little bit of time so we don’t want to risk it … we’ll see how he pulls up this week.

“He’s training with us, but not ready to play yet.”