SYDNEY co-captain Dane Rampe is ready to tackle one of the AFL's most unenviable assignments when Richmond superstar Dustin Martin drifts forward at the MCG.

There had been much fanfare about a potential showdown between perhaps the League's biggest drawcards, Martin and Lance Franklin, in a much-anticipated clash between the reigning premiers and resurgent Swans.

Franklin has been rested, but the challenge of stopping Martin has arguably never been harder.

The three-time Norm Smith medallist is already outright Brownlow Medal favourite with bookmakers, having helped the Tigers start their premiership defence with wins over Carlton and Hawthorn.

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Sydney coach John Longmire encapsulated Martin's threat succinctly on Monday, describing him as "as good a big-game, one-on-one player as I've seen".

George Hewett has tagged Martin previously, including the last time Sydney and Richmond met at the MCG, which the visitors won in 2017.

Former Tigers assistant coach Justin Leppitsch argued this week that Rampe, a brilliant one-on-one defender capable of defusing talls and smalls, was an ideal candidate to match up on Martin.


Rampe, likely to be primarily responsible for Jack Riewoldt or Tom Lynch this weekend, is coy on match-ups but says there is no risk of him following Martin to the middle.

"I don't think I'll be leaving the defensive 50. Dusty is a great player, but they've got some pretty handy forwards down there as well and they're in pretty good form," Rampe said.

Dustin Martin and Dane Rampe during the round six clash between Sydney and Richmond at the Gabba on July 12, 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

"You love testing yourself against the best players. Dusty is the pinnacle of high performance at the moment, especially in big games.

"If Dusty spends some time forward, which I'm sure he will, then I'll definitely put my hand up."

Countless opinions have been offered on how best to curb the game-breaking influence of Martin.


"I don't think anybody has quite figured it out yet," Rampe admitted. "One of our strengths has been our team defence.

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"It'll be about relying on the strength and versatility of our group down back. Hopefully that will hold us in pretty good stead, it'll be a good test as a defensive group."

Rampe's return from the broken hand that ruined his 2020 campaign, coupled with Tom McCartin's successful redeployment, has helped the Swans' backline adjust without Aliir Aliir.

McCartin was shifted out of the forward line late last year and, as Rampe noted, continues to go "from strength to strength at a pretty exponential rate".

Rampe is keen to see how Sydney fare against "the benchmark of the past four years".

"You can develop and grow as a group but until you test yourselves against the best, you don't quite know where you sit," the 30-year-old said.