Sydney Swans coach John Longmire underscored the promising signs of a number of his charges after the 22-point loss to GWS in his side’s opening JLT Community Series fixture on Saturday night.
Longmire was left to rue a rusty start culminating in a 30-point quarter-time deficit, but he was pleased with what Ryan Clarke, Jackson Thurlow, Isaac Heeney, Colin O’Riordan and Sam Reid had shown at Blacktown International Sportspark.
After a clash which saw former Kangaroo Clarke and ex-Cat Thurlow don the red and white for their first official pre-season match at the Swans, Longmire underlined the strong performances of Heeney and O’Riordan and encouraging progress of Reid, whose 2018 campaign was riddled with injuries.
“Ryan and Jackson are going okay. They’re just getting used to playing with new teammates and in new roles. They’ve worked really hard over the pre-season, we’re getting used to them and they’re getting used to us. But their work rate and commitment have been outstanding,” Longmire said post-match.
"Isaac played a key role in getting us back into the game and changing the momentum of the match.
“Colin has developed over the off-season. He competed pretty well and at different times helped get the momentum back just by winning some 50-50s.
“And Sam just needs to get back into the swing of it now. It’s good he got through the game and he now needs to build from here.”
Star forward Lance Franklin and new recruit Daniel Menzel watched from the stands as Reid – with whom they’ll share the forward 50 this year – made his first appearance since featuring in the NEAFL last July.
Franklin and Menzel are both on the road back from groin surgery undergone in December, and they will continue to build ahead of Sydney's Round 1 duel with the Western Bulldogs at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium on March 23.
Former Swans co-captains Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack and lightning-quick backman Zak Jones were boundary-side for Saturday’s game themselves, and Longmire said the three stars were all in the frame for Sydney’s date with the Gold Coast Suns in Lismore on Sunday.
“McVeigh, Jones and Jack all trained well on Saturday,” Longmire said.
“A number of our guys trained ahead of the game on Saturday and trained quite well, so we’ll be talking about who’s in the mix for the game against Gold Coast.”