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Young recruits impress coach

Luke McManus  December 5, 2017 1:32 PM

Longmire press conference - December 4, 2017 John Longmire speaks with the media during preseason training at Weigall Oval.
Draftee Ryley Stoddart prepares for training with his senior teammates for the first time on Monday morning.

Draftee Ryley Stoddart prepares for training with his senior teammates for the first time on Monday morning.

Sydney Swans coach John Longmire has been impressed by what he’s seen in the Club’s new recruits, singling out their fleet-footedness and willingness to take the game on.

It’s, of course, “only early days” but Longmire was glowing in his assessment of the new draftees and rookies when pressed at Monday’s session at his first media call of the pre-season.

Draftees Matthew Ling, Tom McCartin and Ryley Stoddart, along with rookies Angus Styles, Joel Armartey, Jake Brown and James Bell are into their second week of training already.

The talented group was joined by their senior counterparts on Monday as the Sydney Swans’ pre-season campaign got into full swing.

“It’s really exciting and they’ve all got something different,” Longmire told reporters after the two-hour session at Weigall Oval.

“One of the things I’ve noticed is there’s some speed, which is great. That was certainly the focus going into the draft, look at the kids, in particular the ones with some speed, and we’ve got a good sprinkling of that and can see that at training. They love getting the ball and taking off.

“It has been good to see them all out there doing something which is a great credit to the programs they’ve been in previously. They’ve been able to turn up in good nick and been able to commence training.”

Longmire will be keeping a closer eye on his younger crop during pre-and-post Christmas periods, training blocks he’s identified as key to their development.

Having many senior players on lighter duties until early-to-mid January, a portion of which are recovering from off-season surgery, presents an opportunity for his middle-to-lower tier to own a patch of grass and get as much out of this pre-season as possible.

“For some of our more experienced players, year on year, going deep into finals, what we’re evolving in their preparation sense is to make sure the pre-Christmas period is really about their post-Christmas period,” Longmire said.

“(We’re) trying to establish a strong foundation so it’s very much an individual focus for a number of our experienced players and getting them absolutely cherry-ripe for a January start.

“It’s a combination of continued progression of improvement (for the young players), no matter what they’re doing, whether it’s their running, skill level, or their leadership skills. Every part of what’s required to be an AFL player is to continue on the path of improvement.

“Understanding that there’ll be setbacks along the way, and you’ll go backwards a couple of times, but doing it in the hope of progression and it’s a great opportunity for them to do that.”

Over the past two seasons, the Swans have blooded 13 debutants, with many players from the first-to-fourth-year group earning plenty of game time over the last two seasons.

Longmire hoped that trend continued well into season 2018 and beyond.

“We’ve had the one-to-four year players here for the past two weeks. The good thing about the evolution of our list is about nine of those are regular senior players,” Longmire added.

“So that younger group, particular the first-to-second year players, they’ve played the most amount of games for debutants in the competition over the past two years.

“Our younger group are such key players in our team now and that was really evident last week, watching them train, so there are many senior players in that one-to-four-year group and they play a key role in our team.

“We know and understand we have some senior players in our best 22, but there are a lot of younger kids in that team as well.”