newsCO.com.au –Smith backed to take on Betts in AFL clash

August 14, 2017

John Longmire wants Nick Smith and any other Sydney defender to back themselves when they’re trying to stop Eddie Betts.

Smith has had some success against the Adelaide star and is likely to start on him in Friday night’s AFL blockbuster at Adelaide Oval.

While Betts is the best small forward in the AFL and is seventh in the Coleman Medal race, the last few weeks have shown he is not unstoppable.

First-year Essendon player Andy McGrath kept Betts goalless on Saturday night and the same happened to the genius goalsneak in the round-18 win over Geelong.

In between, Betts had his appendix removed and returned to kick four goals in the blowout Showdown win over Port Adelaide.

Betts has kicked 45 goals this season and at home, in such a big game, is a massive threat.

Asked if Smith would start on Betts, Longmire said: “that would be a reasonable assumption.

“Any of our back six who go to him will have their hands full.

“You can’t afford to switch off (against) Eddie Betts – his mind is thinking a million miles an hour, every second of the game.

“But it’s also understanding that you need to be confident in what you do as a team, as an individual playing on him.

“You can stick to what you know works … trying to apply that to the best of your ability.”

While the first-placed Crows will start favourites, Sydney have won 12 of the last 14 matches.

The Swans are now fifth and breathing down the necks of fourth-placed Richmond.

Longmire said captain Josh Kennedy trained well on Monday and is set to return from two matches out with a hamstring problem, provided he proves his fitness at Wednesday training.

The same applies to young defender Nic Newman, who had Sydney worried when he hyperextended his right knee in Sydney’s cakewalk against Fremantle.

Longmire said Newman had pulled up better than expected.

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