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Swans hit back at blocking claims

James Dampney  April 26, 2013 3:47 PM

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Ryan O'Keefe admits confusion over St Kilda coach Scott Watters' focus on their blocking


THERE is a minor storm brewing on either side of the Tasman, with Sydney Swans star Ryan O'Keefe hitting back at St Kilda suggestions his side employs questionable blocking tactics.

The Swans knocked off the Saints by 16 points on Anzac Day in the first competitive AFL match held in New Zealand.

Afterwards, St Kilda coach Scott Watters inferred the way the Swans block opposition players off the ball could be reviewed – and possibly mirrored.

"Their defenders are very good defenders. I think they block off the ball better than any defensive group in the League," Watters said.

"We need to have a good look at the way they block 10 or 15 metres off the ball and don't get infringed against.

"I would like some more of that in our game."

But upon arrival back into Sydney on Friday, O'Keefe was having none of that when asked if the Swans were using any new tactics.

Instead, he threw a similar query at the Saints' defensive moves.

"Not that I know of, some new tactic," he said.

"Maybe they should check some of their blocking tactics around stoppages.

"I'd be looking at the same sort of situation.

"It's no different to any other game anyone else does. I’m not sure about this blocking."

Pushed further, O'Keefe said he would need some proof of what Watters was referring to before being able to comment accurately.

The midfielder also had little interest in assessing if it was all a diversionary tactic from Watters, whose side is now 1-4 following the loss in Wellington.

"I’m not sure what he's referring to, to be honest," O'Keefe said. "I've got no idea what he's talking about.

"He needs to show some examples of what it is, then I can comment on it.

"I just concentrated on our own game. What they do is their own problem.

"We have nothing to do with how they're going about their business.

"If that's what he wants to do, good luck to him."

Despite the apparent difference of opinion between the teams, O'Keefe felt the overseas experiment had been a huge success.

The two-time premiership winner and 2006 All Australian even believed New Zealand could have its own side in the AFL in the not-too-distant future.

"It was a great experience over there," he said.

"I look forward to more games over there, I think it's a really great concept.

"Who knows, maybe there could be a team there in the future?

"They're really passionate about their sport. It's not like we'd be trying to compete with the All Blacks, it's just an alternative for the youth over there and the people to support something different (if they had their own team).

"Logistically it's a two-and-a-half hour flight so it's pretty close, especially for the eastern seaboard."

The third-placed Swans now have a 10-day break before their next match, against the Brisbane Lions at the SCG.

James Dampney is a reporter for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_JD