Mainstays back for crucial clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mainstays back for crucial clash

By James Dampney 02/05/2009 10:03:12 AM Comments (0)

Sydney have meandered through an inconsistent AFL season to date, but they welcome back two crucial old-timers against Richmond on Sunday who have the ability to turn a game on their own.

Michael O'Loughlin hasn't played since badly injuring his ankle in round 16 last year, while Barry Hall has missed the past two games with a groin problem.

But the two men, who have been the mainstays of the Sydney forward line for the past decade, return to face the Tigers in a match the Swans need to win to keep in touch with the top eight.

Sydney slipped to 2-3 following last week's upset loss to last-placed Fremantle and will be keen to ensure they don't let their guard down against a Richmond outfit that showed signs of life in last week's victory over the Kangaroos.

"It'll be good, they are both obviously superstars of the competition and they can win a game off their own boot," Sydney midfielder Jarrad McVeigh said of Hall and O'Loughlin.

"It'll be very handy to have those guys back in the team and looking for a good performance.

"Mick in particular hasn't played for a while and will be very excited this week."

Jarred Moore also returns for the Swans, with Ed Barlow making way, while Luke Ablett is in doubt with a shoulder problem.

Plenty of attention this week has been about Canadian rugby convert Mike Pyke, who will make his AFL debut against the Tigers.

But, in typically laconic fashion, coach Paul Roos suggested the return of his two pre-eminent goal-kickers was also a decent story for the harbour city club.

"It's been all about Pykey," he said. "There's also a bloke called Barry Hall coming in I think.

"And Mick O'Loughlin, a very good young player, from Adelaide I think he is."

Sydney have alternated wins and losses all season to date, winning home games against Carlton and Hawthorn while slipping up on the road against St Kilda, Brisbane and the Dockers.

Following the clash with Richmond, the Swans face the most daunting task in the AFL - a trip to Skilled Stadium to take on Geelong.

So the Swans need to produce their best on Sunday and try to find some consistency.

"Definitely, you go out to win every game but it's a crucial game this one and we've got Geelong the week after," McVeigh said.

"We have to get into some winning form and give ourself the best opportunity for a crack at the finals."

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