AAP AFL

New Swans goal-sneak learning from Papley

By AAP Newswire

Sam Gray has shadowed fellow small forward Tom Papley throughout his first AFL pre-season at Sydney, where the club's mosquito fleet are confident they can fire should Lance Franklin miss round one.

The Swans' forward line will look different in 2020, regardless of when Franklin returns from knee surgery, following the off-season arrival of Gray and Lewis Taylor from Port Adelaide and Brisbane respectively.

The long-awaited return of ruckman Sam Naismith is also likely to result in Callum Sinclair playing more minutes as a forward.

Gray booted a goal and set up a couple others in Friday's intra-squad scratch match, which came 15 days out from Sydney's opening pre-season clash with GWS.

The 28-year-old, who nominated helping the Swans return to finals as his major goal for the year, has spent no shortage of time with Papley since joining the club.

"I had my shoulder surgery at the end of last season. Tommy and I had the same one, so we worked our way through that and since Christmas it's been pretty good," Gray told AAP.

"We did everything together.

"We both had the yellow hats on for no contact the first day we were back, it was good to work with someone and not just run laps by yourself."

The goal-sneak suggested he has learned plenty from Papley, who is five years younger but "one of the better small forwards in the comp", and Franklin.

"Their intensity stands out. The way they go about it at training, you train like it's a game," Gray said.

"Building that connection with those guys is going to be really important for us this year ... we can be very dangerous forward line."

Franklin, who had a knee arthroscopy in January, is set to resume running next week.

Papley is adamant the Swans will prove their potency without Franklin if the superstar misses their season-opening match against Adelaide on March 21.

"Hopefully he is right but we've actually got a pretty good record without Bud," he said.

"With Sam Gray and Lewy Taylor coming in, we've got another couple of goal sources ... it's still a pretty dangerous forward line.'

Gray argued there were a lot of forwards who could step up if Franklin is absent, adding the four-time Coleman medallist has "built up a really good base and wouldn't take long to get back into it".