EXPERIENCED defender Nick Smith has put the onus on the Sydney Swans' senior group of players to lift the club out of its losing rut.
The Swans are in Perth ahead of tomorrow night's pivotal clash with West Coast at Subiaco, aiming to record their first win of the season. After contesting last year's grand final, Sydney has dropped games against Port Adelaide and Collingwood at home and away to the Dogs.
With injuries to established stars such as Kurt Tippett (ankle), Isaac Heeney (glandular fever), Jarrad McVeigh (calf), Tom Papley (knee/shin), Dane Rampe (arm) and Gary Rohan (back/hamstring), the Swans have been forced to play a host of new faces.
Last week they fielded the fourth-youngest line-up in going down by a point to the Magpies. In total, 10 of the 22 had made their debut in the past 13 months. But while rookies Nick Newman (23 disposals), Robbie Fox (15), and Harrison Marsh (16) impressed, premiership heroes Kieren Jack (13), Luke Parker (23) and Smith (7) himself will need to lift.
"I don't think the way we go about it will change. We do have to tighten up on a few things but our intent won't change from the way it's been,” Smith said.
"Some of our young guys have been really good but some of the senior players have to lift their games and we just need to start winning.”
The Swans have struggled under the pressure being applied to them.
While they are usually the number-one tackling team in the competition, the Swans have had a league-high 264 tackles laid against them in the opening three rounds.
The Swans will be hoping the wide spaces of Subiaco, where they have won five of their past six against the Eagles, might give them a little more breathing space.
The Swans are looking to avoid their worst start to a season since 1993 when they lost the first 11 of the year.
While the side arrived in Perth yesterday, Sam Naismith and Tippett were held back in Sydney undergoing last-minute fitness tests. If neither comes up, Callum Sinclair will take the bulk of the rucking duties against his former club with support from Sam Reid.
The Eagles, who come off a disappointing loss to Richmond, should play star forward Mark LeCras (head) and veteran onballer Sam Mitchell (soreness) after both trained strongly today.
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