JOSH Francou says a ruthless mission to shatter Port Adelaide’s season without star imports Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett is the true ‘test’ of Sydney’s vaunted Bloods culture.
However it’s Francou’s former club Port entering Thursday night’s SCG clash under enormous pressure in 12th spot and the Swans assistant coach contests the notion any side needs a “dip” before rebounding as a premiership force.
Francou says Sydney must secure a top-four passage at the expense of Port who would need to win eight of nine games to make the finals with defeat at the SCG.
“We lose our two key forwards and Tippo has been spending a little time in the ruck so we lose that a well and it is a big test for the playing group,” said Francou with Tippett and Franklin serving one-game suspensions for incidents in last Friday’s loss to Richmond at the SCG.
Sydney has only been without high rollers Franklin and Tippett once since last season when it conquered Brisbane at the Gabba.
Canadian ruckman Mike Pyke will be a crucial addition with Tippett out as Sydney attempts to keep a four point-buffer between fourth and fifth placed rivals Hawthorn and Collingwood. Sam Reid is set to resume his 2012 premiership pairing with Adam Goodes in attack.
“You talk about Bloods culture and the different roles that individuals play within a team and we bring back guys that have played good senior footy for us,” said Francou, promoted from a development role to assistant midfield coach with former Power teammate Stuart Dew.
“Mike Pyke comes back into the side and others will fill the role with Buddy and Tippo not playing.
“There’s always upsets and we have to perform. I wouldn’t have thought there are too many times we lose two in a row at the SCG.”
Richmond stunned Sydney in an 18-point win with spearhead Jack Riewoldt’s six goals proving the difference.
Sydney coach John Longmire has demanded his men return to the trademark contested possession and gut running that traditionally chokes visiting sides.
“Horse is no different to other coaches, he sets high expectations of the playing group and staff,” 2002 All-Australian and Brownlow Medal runner-up Francou toldThe Advertiser.
“If there’s issues there, he wants them fixed so there is a high degree of accountability.
“I have learnt a lot off him about the game and being exposed to the Bloods culture has been a really good experience.”
It ‘hurt’ Francou to watch the club he served with distinction almost go to the wall in the pre-Ken Hinkley era. However Francou must ‘divorce’ himself from past allegiances Thursday night as Sydney attempts to inflict more pain with a 12th win in 13 games against Port.
While hailing Hinkley’s contribution at Alberton since 2013, there’s no credence to the theory any side need falter to find the resilience to win a flag.
“I think that is a furphy and if you asked the supporters they would say that too,” said Francou, who missed Port’s 2004 premiership while sidelined by a knee reconstruction.
“They have had a bit of a dip but you can sense the players play for Ken and (he) has some really good stuff going for him.”