‘We can get better’: Longmire confident Swans can cap off quick rise with another flag

Sydney’s swift return to the AFL’s biggest stage might have come much quicker than the footy world expected – but not John Longmire, who has vowed that the Swans will make the most of their hard-earned opportunity next weekend.

Longmire is into his fourth grand final as a senior coach, having watched his players withstand an almighty onslaught from Collingwood in the dying minutes of Saturday’s preliminary final at the SCG before holding on to win by a solitary point.

The Swans celebrate their remarkable win over Collingwood.Credit:Getty

Just getting to the last Saturday of September is a significant triumph for the Swans, who have missed the finals only twice in the past 13 years. Their premiership window – having retooled their young, energetic list at warp speed, without losing their competitiveness – seems to be only just opening.

“We had high expectations internally,” Longmire said when asked about the external view that this grand final appearance has come early for Sydney.

“We want to give these blokes a crack at playing finals every year. That’s our role, as the footy department, is to give the players a crack at the finals every year and give your supporters some hope. We’re pretty determined to do that.

“They’re a good group. They’ve got some experience there, and some terrific young blokes that I really enjoy working with. Terrific staff … you get the right people in the right positions, and it gives you an opportunity.

John Longmire is into his fourth AFL grand final as a senior coach.Credit:Getty

“We have an opportunity this week. But we’ve got to make the right decisions on game day and get ourselves ready to go.”

Longmire dismissed concerns that the brutal, physical nature of Saturday’s match could trouble them against Geelong, who would have sat back and relished the sight of their two potential opponents belting each other for two hours at the SCG.

“I think we can get better,” he said.

“That’s always a positive, when you look at some of the areas. I thought we got a lot right tonight. It was a high-pressure game, both teams were going at it … it went right into the wire, and we just had our nose in front at the end, which was terrific.”

He also refused to even discuss the possibility that Sam Reid, who was subbed out at the start of the third quarter with an adductor injury, could miss out. The 30-year-old was in his club tracksuit as his teammates were celebrating their win and would appear to be at long odds to feature in the grand final, given his long history of soft-tissue problems.

Reid defied his critics, his uncertain contractual future at the end of last year, and his own body to become a pivotal member of their 22, serving as a secondary tall option up forward alongside Lance Franklin as well as a pinch-hitting back-up to Tom Hickey in the ruck.

If he misses as expected, Joel Amartey or Hayden McLean would loom as the obvious replacements, with former Port Adelaide ruckman Peter Ladhams still suspended for an undisciplined off-the-ball hit in the VFL.

“We don’t know yet,” Longmire said of Reid’s prognosis, before cutting off a reporter’s follow-up question on the possibility of him being sidelined before it could be finished.

“It’s not relevant at the moment. It’s just after our game, I don’t dwell on the what ifs an hour after the game. Let’s just wait and see.”

The grand final is also the last game in the last year of Franklin’s nine-year, $10 million contract, which many thought he would struggle to see out when he switched from Hawthorn to Sydney at the end of 2013.

On the basis of his first half against Collingwood, he’s still got the magic and the hunger that hade made him one of the AFL’s all-time greatest players.

“He’s played in grand finals before, and he gets an opportunity to play in another one,” Longmire said.

“He knows how hard they are to win, too. He respects the stage, as our players will this weekend – respect it, don’t be afraid of it, lean into it, and see how we go.”

Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article