Dane Rampe after Sydney's win over Collingwood in R1, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

IF THERE were any doubters about Dane Rampe's place in this young Sydney side, the veteran backman silenced them well and truly in last week's derby at the SCG.

In his first game back after four weeks out with a hamstring injury, the former Swans skipper won his battle with reigning All-Australian captain Toby Greene, keeping the Giants great goalless.

It's a match-up the Swans - and most other teams in the AFL - have struggled with before, but Rampe dealt with it superbly in a reminder of his importance to the Sydney backline.

Dane Rampe in a contest with Toby Greene during Sydney's win over GWS in R8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"I guess I was happy. After a few weeks out and the team going so well, you wonder selfishly about how you're going to perform," Rampe tells AFL.com.au.

"I love playing the best players and Toby is one of the best. I've got a whole bunch of respect for him and the way he goes about it. What made me excited to come back and play is that there was a genuine match-up for me.

"I probably missed out a little bit over the last couple of years, to be honest, having Tom McCartin take the key forwards. So to have a genuine match-up for myself is something I really relish these days, because they are few and far between. Which is fine. It's the natural progression of the team."

Turning 34 in June, Rampe may be the elder statesmen of the Swans set-up but one that has the passion for the premiership project at Sydney as much as any time in his career.

He says he's "loving his footy as much as ever" and having missed out on the holy grail three times in the 2014, 2016 and 2022, the desire to achieve the ultimate is driving him on.

"That's what keeps me going, that's what gets me up in the morning," Rampe said.

"That's definitely the carrot. Being around for success and sharing that with a group of players that I've been around with for a long time now and I've watched grow from pretty much their late teens is something that really drives me to share with them, potentially.

"The sky's the limit for the group, provided we keep going about our business in the right way and not expecting that things are going to happen.

Dane Rampe and Ollie Florent after Sydney's win over GWS in R8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"We probably fell into that trap a little bit last year of talking bigger picture and thinking we want to go one step further. We learned the hard way that it's more about just winning the first game and then it's about winning another game to get into the finals and then you can start worrying about top four.

"But we're quietly confident and I think we've shown early on in the year and obviously on the weekend with the Giants that we can match it against the best."

As firm as Rampe's place is in the Swans quest for a sixth premiership cup, his coach John Longmire admitted this week the 2016 All-Australian will be managed at times during the season to ensure he's primed for September.

Beyond that timeline is not something Rampe is willing to ponder just yet.

Dane Rampe during Sydney's win over Melbourne in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"I'm obviously contracted until (the end of) next year, but I'm really happy with where things sit," he says.

"I think I've learned over time that things can change really quickly. Whether that be bodies holding up or motivation levels dropping because you're ready to move on to what's next in life.

"So I don't want to sit here and say, 'this is going to be the way, this is what I want to do'. Because I know it can change pretty quickly. I'm just trying to enjoy it for what it is at the moment."

Once Rampe does depart, hopefully with an elusive premiership medal to his name, he is comforted by the fact that the club is in extremely good hands with the likes of new stand-alone skipper Callum Mills young midfield dynamos Errol Gulden and Chad Warner.


"What I enjoy about watching them and then working with them is that it's one thing to have talent, and the talent that they do have is right at the pointy end, but the work ethic they've got and their attention to detail and the level of mastery they're after is something that's pretty rare," he says.

"I haven't seen it in too many players, to be honest, and to have those guys at the same age coming through together, I think we can feel there's a sense of something pretty special there.

"At the stage of the career I'm at just watching these guys grow and sharing part of their journey is something that I definitely cherish and something that I'm going to look back on with great memories."