Swans put grand final behind them

Lui Zacher
March 13, 2023 / 9:01 pm


SYDNEY’S impressive group of young players give coach John Longmire great confidence the Swans will suffer no repercussions from their horror AFL grand final loss.

Longmire said Sydney has moved on from their 81-point mauling from Geelong, which brought a great season to a shattering end.

But the club boasts young guns such as Errol Gulden, James Rowbottom and Chad Warner, while co-captain and All-Australian Callum Mills is yet to turn 26.

While teams such as Adelaide (2017), GWS (2019) and the Western Bulldogs (2021) have had varying levels of difficulty in recovering from heavy grand final losses, Longmire does not buy into the trend.

“It’s six months ago. We’ve moved forward as far as what the new season looks like,” Longmire said.

“We have a lot of young players who got some experience out of that game, but also out of the year.

“So we balance it up at the end of the season … we’re really confident, this next group coming forward.

“If we get the majority of our best team on the park the majority of weeks, we think we’ll be really competitive.”

Gulden, in particular, is coming off a solid pre-season and is tipped to build on last year, when he played all 25 games.

“We expect him to be a really good player for us because he prepares so well, he trains so hard,” the coach said.

“He runs so hard – that type of two-way midfielder we really enjoy coaching.”

At the other end of the age spectrum is Lance Franklin, who, at 36, is starting his 18th AFL season.

“It’s extraordinary, really,” Longmire said. “We’ve managed him over the off-season, he had a bit of a calf over Christmas, but he’s been able to do a fair bit of training since then.”

Longmire has no expectation Franklin will play every game, with the Swans planning to manage their veteran key forward through the season with rests as needed.

“Most weeks, he’ll have something going on, at 36 years of age,” Longmire said.

“I’m sure that’s not too unexpected – I’ve got most things going on most times as well. I’m not too much different to Bud.

“It’s not just going to be measured on goals alone. It never is, we’ve never done that, but particularly towards the absolute back end of his career.

“It’s what his match-ups might allow others to do. All that will come into it.”

Longmire said Tom Hickey, Robbie Fox and Ryan Clarke would be unavailable for Saturday night’s away season opener against Gold Coast, but generally, their list is in good shape.

“We feel like we have a good, strong, young core of players that are really important to us, who are carrying a fair load for us, which is how it should be,” he said.

(C) AAP 2023

Image: Dejected Sydney players following last year’s grand final loss. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)