SYDNEY coach John Longmire has urged the footy public to judge Dane Rampe on his brilliant footy story and not his eventful past month, ahead of the co-captain's 150th match this weekend.
Overlooked in a number of drafts before he was finally given a rookie spot by the Swans ahead of the 2013 season, Rampe has since become one of the game's best key defenders, with the 29-year-old a member of the All Australian side in 2016.
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He's been involved in some controversial moments this season, notably a run-in with an umpire and a goalpost in a match against Essendon at the SCG in round eight, and two weeks later, when he gave away a costly 50m penalty at the same venue late in the Swans' loss to Collingwood.
Longmire said Rampe has been an exceptional member of the Swans over the past seven seasons and should be lauded for the way he's carved out such a stellar career, despite copping so many rejections as a youngster.
"In my view he's one of the best defenders in the competition and I hope people don't get distracted by a few of the things that have happened over the last few weeks," he said.
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"He competes as hard as any player I've seen on the best forwards every week and often it's players of all different sizes.
"His ability to compete right to the end just shows that you've got to be playing well or absolutely on the money to get a kick on him.
"He's receptive to any match-up and takes on any challenge, and this year I'd argue has been his best year of footy.
"We love the way he plays his footy."
Rampe is one of Sydney's most popular players, and also one of its most intriguing characters.
He regularly shuns the popular holiday destinations to travel solo to all corners of the globe in the off-season and has never changed the way he goes about his football along the way.
It's what has made him a successful player and leader at the Swans.
"I love his personality and you need a mixture of personalities in a footy club to make it work," Longmire said.
"He's fantastic to deal with, he's passionate, he's absolutely committed and drives the group.
"He really cares about the group and shows empathy for the players, but he's also got a really hard edge about him, and he gets that balance right and that's why he's a co-captain of the footy club."
Rampe will likely start this Sunday's clash against the Eagles on dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy but could also find himself on the rejuvenated Jack Darling, who warmed up for the trip to Sydney with a six-goal haul against the Western Bulldogs.
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"Whether it's Kennedy or Darling I'm sure he'll find a match-up there at some stage and he'll have another massive test this week," Longmire said.
"What we know is that it takes a lot to beat him and if he gets beaten he leaves it all on the field, and that's all you can ask of any player.
"We need to be able to get that battle right in the midfield to try and restrict their scoring ability."