AFL North West: Swans veteran Damien Wendt to play 200th game

MILESTONE: Swans veteran Damien Wendt plays his 200th game for the club against New England on Saturday.
MILESTONE: Swans veteran Damien Wendt plays his 200th game for the club against New England on Saturday.

Swans coach Paul Kelly has praised Damien Wendt ahead of the veteran’s 200th game for the club against New England in Tamworth on Saturday, describing him as flint-hard and as fair as his career is long.

Kelly said he and Wendt went back “probably 20 years”, when they first played together after the Tamworth Magpies merged with the Swans.

“You wouldn’t find a harder and more fairer footballer going around,” Kelly said.

“For a bloke his size, he punches above his weight every time he plays footy.”

Wendt is held in such high esteem at the Swans that the club’s best and fairest medal is named after him.

And his love for the Swans is so strong that he came out of retirement last season to help the club in their time of need.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him,” Kelly said.

The winless Swans will need all of Wendt’s experience against the reigning premiers, who have lost one match this season, although for the second week in a row Kelly has a surplus of players.

Tamworth welcome back major ball-getter Gavin Knee, who is returning from a bad hamstring tear, and centre half-forward Ross Fraser, who missed last week’s three-goal loss to Moree.

Kelly said that at one stage he thought he would field his strongest team in months against the Nomads but then he lost two young players, including Julian Jasper, to sporting commitments at Farrer.

The Kangaroos and the Suns play in the second game at No.1 Oval on Saturday. The first game starts at 2pm and the second game 4.15pm.