KIEREN Jack expects his great mate Dan Hannebery to show his true character and bounce back hard in the Sydney Swans' crunch match against Collingwood this Saturday night.
Hannebery has lifted his game in each of the past four years, capping his rise to stardom by playing a major role in the 2012 flag and then earning All Australian honours last season.
The 2010 AFL Rising Star winner averaged a career-high 25.3 disposals last year to finished equal sixth in the Brownlow Medal.
But he picked up just 12 touches – his lowest total since round four, 2012 – in the Swans' shock round one loss to Greater Western Sydney.
Hannebery has also been the subject of some off-field rumours, with one report stating the club needed to hold talks with him regarding his behaviour, which was denied by the Swans.
The 23-year-old also garnered some unwanted attention after he was involved in an accident earlier this year while driving Lance Franklin's car.
It hasn't been the ideal start to 2014, but Jack expects Hannebery to return to his best against the Pies at ANZ Stadium.
"I back him," Jack said prior to training on Thursday.
"He's a great young kid, he's got a great attitude, he knows he wasn't at his best against the Giants and he's trained really well since.
"He's a proud fella and I've had some one-on-one chats with him; it's probably the first time in his career he's had a bit of a dip in form.
"He sets such a high standard for himself and performed so well for the few years he's been in the seniors.
"I'm sure he'll bounce back, but he wasn't alone. It doesn't help when the majority of your team isn't playing well."
Jack was a frustrated onlooker against GWS after a back injury forced him out of the side on the morning of the game.
The co-captain said he "pretty much couldn't move" when he woke that morning, but his back has responded well to treatment and he will be back in the line-up on Saturday.
While a first ever loss to the Giants was disappointing, the Swans have had to deal with a large amount of what Jack labelled "innuendo" in the days since.
He is confident a victory over Collingwood is the best way to silence all the talk swirling around the club.
"It was terrible," he said of the GWS defeat. "I'm not a great watcher of footy.
"I could do nothing about it and it was very frustrating.
"We've addressed it, reviewed it hard and the only way we can stop the talk and innuendo that's going on is really to perform on the weekend.
"We get a chance to do that against a pretty good opposition."
One of those under intense scrutiny has been Ryan O'Keefe, who was initially left out of the team for round one before earning a reprieve due to Jack's withdrawal.
Jack said O'Keefe was still a chance of retaining his place and adding to his 283 career games.
"He's a chance, absolutely. He's a great player," Jack said.
"We need to get the right balance in the group. With Tom Mitchell and Luke Parker coming in, you don't want to have a one-paced midfield.
"You need some speed and we've injected Harry Cunningham into the mix and 'Jets' (Lewis Jetta) and Gary Rohan will run around a bit too.
"(O'Keefe's) aware of that and he knows when there's a match-up there for him, he'll perform really well, and we trust him absolutely to do that."
Both teams are facing a possible zero-and-two start to the year with a defeat on Saturday and Jack is preparing for a fierce response from the Pies.
"Collingwood are in the exact same boat," he said.
"They got shown up against Fremantle … and they'll be coming up here wanting to redeem themselves.
"We're after redemption too, so it's going to be on.
"I'm looking forward to it."