John Longmire has revealed that Tom Papley played through broken ribs in the early part of the season, after the star forward's four goals propelled Sydney to a two-point win over the Western Bulldogs.
"He's had some challenges this year," Longmire said of Papley post-game.
"He broke his ribs at the start of the year, and no-one probably knew about it, well no-one did know about it. And it was lingering for quite a while, then a number of other injuries that he's had has meant that he hasn't been able to train.
"So, he's just had a tough year to try and physically get up to be able to train to perform well."
Papley's four goals, on his 27th birthday no less, was his best return since round five where he slotted six majors against Richmond.
At selection the Swans made a statement, leaving out veteran ruck Tom Hickey against likely All-Australian Tim English, but the want to keep Joel Amartey in the side was ultimately the reason Hickey missed out.
"We wanted Joel in the team, he played well against (the Dogs) last time, so we wanted Joel back in. And we wanted Hayden (McLean) who's done a pretty good job for us and Lance (Franklin) and Logan (McDonald), so the numbers just meant that Tom missed out tonight," Longmire said.
English was among the Bulldogs' best, with 60 hitouts and 10 clearances, having a big say in the Bulldogs' dominance at stoppages, winning the metric comfortably 52-34.
Amartey and McLean fought admirably, combining for 31 hitouts.
Longmire also admitted that his side didn't necessarily play good-looking footy for parts of the night, instead focused on a high-pressure game to shut down the Bulldogs' quick handballing method. As a result, the Swans won the tackle count 90-62, with 22 of their tackles coming in the forward 50.
"It wasn't flash footy, it wasn't sexy footy, except from my perspective it was absolutely beautiful," he said with a smile.
It was an effort befitting of a celebration, as it wasn't just Papley's birthday, but Longmire's 300th game at the helm, something he doesn't take lightly.
"It's a bit of carry on, isn't it?" Longmire said of the celebrations initially.
"I had a cake yesterday, that was a bit of carry on, got my big boofhead on the big screen, so that was a bit of carry on. But I don't want to be flippant about it, I'm very lucky to work for a fantastic footy club and those boys tonight, I've seen all their tapes as young kids coming through, from the youngest ones who were just drafted to the oldest ones … I've been fortunate that I've been part of a lot of their journeys. I feel very privileged and honoured that I was a part of it for so long, for so many of them."