ALL-AUSTRALIAN forward Tom Papley has backed a young Sydney midfield to overcome the loss of key onballers in their elimination final against Greater Western Sydney.
The Swans will be without Callum Mills and Josh Kennedy for Saturday's clash, but Papley expects a recalled Chad Warner and their young teammates to overcome the Giants’ star-studded and in-form midfield.
Warner will return for his first match since round 12 but averaged 17 disposals (seven contested) and earned a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in a breakout season before being sidelined with soreness in his lower leg.
"Chad Warner is in, he's one that really will thrive on it. I love playing with him, he's hard-nosed and got a bit of aggro about him," Papley said.
"I've got full confidence in Chad Warner, we've seen what he did in the first part of the year. James Rowbottom has played all year too, they're the guys that are stepping up.
"[Mills and Kennedy] have taught them the ways, they're learning the ways still but I've got full confidence in them to take control and really work hard in there and get the job done."
The Giants beat the Swans for contested ball in both of their meetings this season but the Swans were able to turn around an early 35-point deficit to win their most recent clash by 26 points.
The knockout final on Saturday will be the third time the crosstown rivals have met in a final, following a spiteful qualifying final in 2016 and an elimination final in 2018 that were both won by the Giants.
The 2016 clash was also Papley’s first-ever final, coming in his debut season, and he had some pointed advice for his 10 teammates that are set to make their finals debut this week.
"The Giants have really got some momentum. Their contested ball and everything they're doing at the moment is going well for them. But we're also going well,” Papley said.
"I'm sure there will be some rough stuff, there is in every finals game, everyone goes so hard. That's why you love playing footy, everyone loves it, the contested side of the game.
"The heat goes up a bit, the fastness of the game, the contested side of the game, it's a lot more of a territory battle.”
The Swans midfield will be led by co-captain Luke Parker, who was named in the Therabody AFL All-Australian squad of 40 players along with Mills and forward Lance Franklin, but the trio missed out on being selected in the final team.
ALL-AUSTRALIAN TEAM Check out who made the cut
Papley was named in a forward pocket after a career-best season where he has kicked 41 goals and added 21 goal assists.
It is the first time the 25-year-old forward has earned a place in an All-Australian team after the Swans picked him up in a rookie draft at the end of 2015.
"It's a huge honour. I was looking at the names last night and I was probably a bit surprised,” Papley said.
"It's also a credit to my teammates who have helped me along the way, all my family and friends, all my coaches. I was very pleased with the announcement.”