John Longmire, esteemed coach of Sydney, has heralded this upcoming finals as a juncture for a fresh narrative. He firmly dismissed the idea that the sting of last year’s grand finale loss fuels the Swans’ morale.
Plagued by a skid of poor form and injury woes, the Swans found themselves in a dismal 15th place on the ladder by the close of round 17. However, a staggering six-game winning spree propelled them to what Longmire has dubbed as the “starting grid”, a thrilling elimination final clash against Carlton.
This will be the Swans’ first final since 2015 without recently retired titan Lance Franklin. Despite his absence, Coach Longmire is placing his faith in the competent hands of Isaac Heeney and a revitalised Tom Papley to lead the relatively rookie attack.
Longmire reiterated his season-long mantra that last year’s crushing 81-point defeat to Geelong bears no significance on the Swans’ current stance. He firmly believes in forward momentum, stating, “All we can do is continue to improve. This year, we embarked on crafting a new narrative, focusing on this intention as we gear up for another finals series. The remarkable resilience exhibited by our club and players, consistently striving for excellence, has brought us to this starting grid. I am immensely gratified by this.”
The journey of the Swans to securing a place in the finals, though tumultuous, in no way detracts from the accomplishment. Longmire emphasised this by noting the brutal nature of the competition, “Half of the teams from last year’s finals are absent from this year’s season, including last year’s champions. The stiff competition year on year is often understated; in essence, the entire setup is designed with variety in mind.”
The towering forward trio of Logan McDonald, Joel Amartey, and Hayden McLean, though starkly novice compared to other finalists, can depend on seasoned leaders Heeney and Papley. Longmire is confident this combination will keep the offensive line thriving amidst the tumult of the finals, citing the veterans’ familiarity with the significance of performing at one’s peak consistently and how they could assist the younger players.
Taking into account the impending clash against Charlie Curnow, the celebrated Coleman medallist, Longmire made it clear that Tom McCartin shouldn’t bear the defensive responsibility alone. “(Curnow) is among the competition’s most formidable forwards and it won’t solely depend on Tom,” said Longmire. “Our first approach should be to apply tremendous pressure from the ground up, embedding a team-centric defensive strategy.”