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Fierce competition for spots at Swans
Rob Forsaith
19:08 AEST Sat Feb 23 2013

On the surface reigning AFL premiers Sydney have little motivation, apart from match fitness, heading into their pre-season opener on Sunday.

But try telling that to Tony Armstrong and Tommy Walsh, named emergencies for the Swans' stoic grand final win in 2012.

Sydney coach John Longmire this week spruiked his side's desire to be competitive in every match they play, but admitted the pre-season priority was to get "game time into players and practise good habits".

The Swans tackle Carlton and Greater Western Sydney on Sunday, with Longmire keen to bring his premiership players up to speed ahead of round one of the season proper.

Longmire will also be looking to give experience to his club's untried talent, such as Brandon Jack and Xavier Richards - rookie-listed younger brothers of Sydney stars Kieran and Ted.

But perhaps those with the most to gain are fringe players like Armstrong, Walsh and Andrejs Everitt - who impressed in the Swans' final intra-club match.

"There's a real hunger from those guys that didn't get to play in the premiership last year to make their way into the team and be part of it," Ted Richards said.

"These guys are aware of the opportunity right now because they all want to be part of the team in round one.

"They're aware that there are guys like like Rhyce Shaw, who may not be playing this weekend but will be back.

"They have to fight hard to retain their spot.

"When guys like Rhyce come back, some names have to come out.

"If those players that have the opportunity want to hold their spot, they're going to have to play real well."

Richards is relishing the chance to run out alongside his 19-year-old brother.

"He's 19 and we've been living with each other for about three or four months and playing together is something I really never thought would happen," Ted Richards said.

"It was something we both wanted but we just knew that so much hard work had to be done before we got anywhere near there.

"There's also so much luck you need, because there are 17 other teams in the competition."