Ricky Cary. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian.
Ricky Cary. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian.

Draft hopeful Ricky Cary has been challenged to show he belongs at AFL level when he confronts a daunting defence stocked with West Coast talent in Bunbury this afternoon.

The 22-year-old's importance to kicking a winning score for Swan Districts against league leaders East Perth will be critical with Tim Geappen suspended.

Swans dropped Matt Riggio, Adam Faulkner, Blaine Boekhorst and Matthew Jukes in the wake of their embarrassing loss to West Perth last Saturday.

Captain Tallen Ames (concussion) is also sidelined, meaning Swans have made six changes.

Cary was one of four Swans invited this week to attend the WA draft combine. He has kicked 40 goals this season to be third on the WAFL's goal-kicking tally.

It is a remarkable achievement for the high-leaping forward, given he spent the past two seasons playing reserves.

Cary is likely to be marked by Eagles-listed Blayne Wilson or former Port Adelaide back man Nathan Blee at Bunbury's Hands Oval.

Eight West Coast players ran out for East Perth in the previous round, making it a good arena to gauge the progress of 196cm-tall Cary.

The pencil-thin goal kicker is coming off his quietest effort for the season, booting just one goal from three disposals against the Falcons.

Swans coach Greg Harding said Cary was among a group of players who needed to bounce back this week.

"The year has been all about the fast tracking of these young kids and their development and this is just another opportunity against the highest-quality opposition going around, to show that development and take the next step in his career," Harding said.

"Given his shape, given his height, I think he'll test really strongly in terms of speed, agility, vertical leap. Part of his strengths come from not carrying a lot of weight, although sometimes in marking contests and contested situations it can be to his detriment."

Boekhorst, Alex Howard and Dylan Nelson are the other Swans who will go to the State combine.

Tony Notte is likely to start forward against the Royals.

Harding said utility player Tom Smirk would make his debut. Jacob Burnham, Nathan Broad and Jesse Manton were brought straight into the starting 22.

He conceded the Swans were embarrassed against West Perth.

"We felt it's been coming and we also think it's incredibly important that it's happened now, knowing that we've got a month until we actually hit finals," he said.

"The year has been all about the fast tracking of these young kids and their development …" " Swans coach *Greg Harding * on Ricky Cary

The West Australian

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