AS THE competition moves into 'Buddy watch' in anticipation of Lance Franklin's 1000th career goal, another special storyline has unfolded at Sydney with Paddy McCartin to return to the top level.
Coach John Longmire on Tuesday confirmed the 2014 No.1 draft pick would run out for the club in Saturday night's derby with Greater Western Sydney having joined the Swans as a pre-season supplemental rookie selection.
The strong-marking 25-year-old endured a horror run of concussion issues before being delisted by St Kilda, but after playing with the Swans' NEAFL side last year, McCartin will now feature in their AFL line-up alongside younger brother Tom.
"He'll play this week. It's a great story and once again it's about the team, but you take a step back for a second and realise some of the challenges Paddy's gone through and to get himself to the point of playing his first AFL game for quite a few years this weekend is pretty special for him," Longmire said.
"He's playing a big role down back. He's still getting used to that and learning the game from that perspective, but it's a great story for him to get back and play. We're not just playing him because it's a good story. We're playing him because we believe he can help us win."
McCartin last played at AFL level in round 16, 2018, in his 35th game for the Saints.
The Giants are still working through their line-up for their season-opener, with Jesse Hogan rated a "60/40" chance of playing by coach Leon Cameron as the key forward battles some soreness. Hogan missed the Giants' AAMI Community Series game.
"Hogan will be touch and go. He wants to play, it's just whether or not we think he's got enough training load into him. Our aim is to get him 18 games, he only had nine last year, and when he plays he clearly gives us a great target," Cameron said. "We really want him to play this weekend, but if he gets through training tomorrow then clearly he'll put his hand up."
The Giants have options in defence as they weigh who to send to Franklin, who is five goals short of becoming just the sixth VFL/AFL player to reach the 1000-goal milestone. Veteran Phil Davis played on Franklin in the clubs' practice game last month whilst youngster Sam Taylor is one of the emerging key defenders of the competition.
As excitement builds in Sydney around the possibility of Franklin reaching the mark, Longmire said his focus was on the Giants.
"But you do have to step back from it at times and appreciate the milestone if and when it occurs. It's always a bit awkward talking about something that hasn't quite occurred yet, so we'll hope that it occurs and it would be great if it happens sooner rather than later," he said.
"I'm privileged to be able to coach a player who will go down in history as one of the all-time greats."
Accor Stadium will also unveil a new 120-metre wrap-around scoreboard at the venue for the clash, with it being heralded as the longest scoreboard in the world.