SYDNEY dynamo Tom Papley says the "cowardly" claim levelled against suspended superstar Lance Franklin was unnecessary but remains confident the Swans can cause an upset and defeat Melbourne at the MCG without him.
Franklin has been ruled out for the clash with the premiers on Saturday night after being found guilty by the AFL Tribunal of striking Trent Cotchin in the Swans' thrilling win over Richmond.
His open-handed shove to the face of Cotchin was described as "cowardly" by the AFL's counsel at the hearing, Andrew Woods.
"What he's done over his career speaks for itself," Papley said.
"He made a mistake and everyone makes mistakes but those comments probably aren’t needed, I don’t think."
The eight-time Therabody AFL All-Australian's absence is a big blow for the Swans with Melbourne to be star defender Steven May as he recovers from a concussion suffered last week.
"It’s obviously disappointing but in previous years we’ve actually done well without him. Will Hayward’s kicking goals, Isaac Heeney, Sam Reid last week kicked three. I’m confident the boys can get the system going without him," Papley said.
Sydney will be trying to inflict Melbourne’s first back-to-back defeats since round 15 and 16 of 2020, which coincidentally came against Fremantle - who they lost to last week - and the Swans.
Papley said they’ve had a close review of how the Dockers executed their triumph on the MCG.
"We’ve had a look and we’ll train that today. We’ve got a plan we’ll go with that plan and hopefully come out on top," he said.
"We played them last year at the MCG and we were 10 points off them. We were in the game the whole game and provided pressure. It was a bit like a finals game and we’re expecting the same this week."
The Swans will need to remedy their biggest flaw for the campaign to date with their slow starts becoming a major issue.
John Longmire’s side have lost seven of their 10 first quarters so far this season and can't afford to give the Demons the jump on Saturday night.
"We’ve spoken about it. We started well on the weekend and then the second quarter we slipped. We’re trying things," Papley said.
"On game day we changed the meeting, we used to have it earlier now we have it later. Sometimes we might have a poor warm up and start hot and then other times the energy is high and we start poor, so it’s a hard one to understand."
When it comes to finding the right energy source though, Papley is quite often the man that Sydney turns to.
An All-Australian last season, Papley has been searching for his consistently high standards since returning from injury in round seven, but kicked a critical major shortly before three-quarter time last week to help spearhead the remarkable victory over the Tigers.
"I had nine weeks off. AFL’s not an easy game and I had quiet games in my first two back but got back into form against Carlton. Not many players can come back after eight weeks out and start dominating, perhaps only Dusty Martin can do that," he said.
"I’ve played my role most games and those more dominant games will come."
And he’s adamant that will happen in the red and white of Sydney despite a request to move back to Victoria for family reasons in 2019 that failed to eventuate.
"I’m in a great spot, I’m still contracted for this year and next year. I haven’t thought about it, I’m in a really good space and I’m really happy where I am and where the club is going," he said.