Rory Arnold, Folau Faingaa and Scott Sio are set to be rested as per an agreement with Rugby Australia to manage the workload and game time of key Wallabies players.
David Pocock is also unlikely to play as he manages an ongoing calf problem, which is derailing what looms as his farewell season in Australia.
But Swain, who signed a three-year contract extension last week, views the quartet’s absence as his opportunity to step up in what could be the first starting XV chance of his young career.
The 21-year-old has add seven kilograms of “mud” to his lanky frame to be a more imposing 115 kilograms this year and says he’s ready to make the leap into the Brumbies’ pack.
“If I go over there, it would be an amazing experience,” Swain said. “[The Crusaders] are the gold standard in Super Rugby, I think they’re the No. 1 club side in the world.
“They’re the pinnacle of what it means to play rugby. To go over there and play them, it would be a huge challenge.
“…[Brumbies coach Dan McKellar] just wanted me to add size, bring physicality and use my skill. I’ve gone up and down in weight, a bit of beef and a bit of mud. I was never fast, I maybe lost a bit of speed but I feel like I retained everything I need to.”
The Brumbies have had two weeks to stew on their dismal effort against the Queensland Reds two weeks ago.
The Wallabies resting protocols have added an extra layer of chaos to McKellar’s plans to rebuild a season in danger of being broken after just seven games.
Faingaa has scored six tries this season and has been one of the Brumbies’ best performers, but his absence means McKellar will lean on the experience of Josh Mann-Rea and the youth of Connal McInerney.
Arnold’s absence opens the door for Swain to take his opportunity, while the need to rest Sio is somewhat offset by the recruitment of Wallabies veteran James Slipper.
The only other loosehead prop in the Brumbies squad is uncapped rookie Vunipola Fifita, meaning he will likely get his chance as well.
Slipper and Swain are at opposite ends of the experience spectrum, but they share one thing in common: neither have won a game in Christchurch.
Slipper, however, does know what it takes to beat the Crusaders after toppling the Christchurch-based side in the 2011 grand final when he was playing for the Reds.
The veteran of more than 100 Super Rugby caps and 86 Tests says the Brumbies are refusing to use the absence of stars as an excuse this weekend.
“You’ve got to back every player in the squad. It gives players an opportunity and an opportunity for the older blokes to have a rest,” Slipper said.
“In my opinion, we’ve just got to get on with it. It’s out of our hands. [The resting policy] is affecting teams, but it’s a common goal for the Wallabies and clubs so you can’t question that.”
SUPER RUGBY ROUND EIGHT
Saturday: Canterbury Crusaders v ACT Brumbies at Christchurch, 3.15pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports.
Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.