The Brumbies are monitoring the fitness of David Pocock (calf) and Allan Alaalatoa (wrist), while second-row giant Rory Arnold is expected to be available despite suffering a shoulder injury in a horror loss to Queensland.
McKellar will likely make mass changes to the game-day squad, juggling the need to rest Wallabies players as per an agreement with Rugby Australia with the challenge of getting their campaign on track.
Swain, who will play for Tuggeranong on Saturday, has played just two games in his young career but said he wanted to rise to the challenge if called upon to play the Crusaders.
«I didn’t get much of an opportunity against [the Wellington Hurricanes] this year, but I’m going to keep pushing all the fellas at training and hopefully if I get rewarded if I play well in the John I Dent,» Swain said.
«My goal this year was to start a game. Everyone wants to rip in at training and put on a shot, show what they’ve got.
«Playing against the Crusaders would obviously be the biggest challenge I’ve had so far. But I’d just rip in, just like a debut or any sort of game. Just give it my best.»
Swain is expected to be one up nine or 10 Brumbies playing in defending premier Tuggeranong’s clash against the Gungahlin Eagles, joining Tom Ross, Mack Hansen, Wharenui Hawera, Jahrome Brown, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Ryan Lonergan and more in the contest.
If the inter-squad heated battles at training, which left Connal McInerney concussed last week, are anything to go by, the Brumbies teammates will throw everything at each other.
McKellar will be keeping a close eye on all players, especially after the Brumbies were dismal in a 22-point derby loss to Queensland in Brisbane.
The Brumbies have been hampered by injuries so far this year. Pocock has effectively missed four games, Alaalatoa, Henry Speight and Lausii Taliauli all missed two weeks while Rob Valetini has been ruled out for up to two months.
Winger Toni Pulu is edging closer to a comeback after fracturing his cheekbone in the first game of the season and the Brumbies could get an injection of more fresh blood to satisfy Wallabies rest requirements.
Arnold, Scott Sio and Folau Faingaa could miss the contest, opening the door for Swain and a host of Brumbies to make their mark on the team.
Pocock and Alaalatoa will be monitored and McKellar could make more form-related selection changes.
McKellar has been impressed with Swain’s rise from talented Australian junior to Brumbies lock, who is regarded as the man to fill the void left by Arnold (France) and Sam Carter (Ireland) when they leave at the end of season.
«Darcy’s a competitor and is excellent at the set piece for a young lock,» McKellar said.
«He wants to be in the game, he’s got that competitive nature that I like. Breakdowns or lineouts, whatever it may be, he wants to compete with others around him even if they’re more senior than him.
«That’s why I think he’s got a big future at the club this year. He definitely comes into consideration for the Crusaders, he’s been working hard at training and he’s pushing for more involvement.
«He doesn’t get flustered or intimidated by who’s in front of him. He just gets out there and does it.»
Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.