It was the first time that the full squad has trained on the same day since the club welcomed new recruits on board through the trade and draft periods – albeit the team was unable to train together due to COVID-19 protocols.

Coach John Longmire said it’s good to have everyone back.

“It’s good to have the playing group split up for a period of time, because some of the younger boys get back and train without any of those 5+ year players involved, which is good for them as it gives an opportunity for them to really shine,” Longmire said.

“Most of those guys that trained before Christmas have played senior football, and whilst they are young, they are key players for us.

“It’s always good to get some of the experienced boys back, leading from the front.”

04:51 Mins
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Longmire on Swans return

Senior Coach John Longmire answered the media's questions this morning as all players return for pre-season training.

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The AFL pre-season training protocols changed due to the recent COVID-19 cases, and the Sydney Swans and the entire AFL have had to adapt their training to the newly formed procedures.

“It’s great to have the players back, obviously we spent so much time away in the hub and when we got back, everyone went their own separate ways. We had a good core group training here before Christmas, in their own small groups, but it’s great to have everyone back, refreshed ready to go again,” Longmire said.

“It’s obviously changing all the time [the protocols], but at the moment what it means is small group training in groups of 10 for this week,” he continued.

“We will get some more information from the AFL over the weekend and hopefully we get things back to a little more normal next week, but we are used to changing and adapting as we go.”

Lance Franklin takes part in a handball drill.

With Lance Franklin continuing to recover from a hamstring injury that saw him ruled out during the 2020 season, Longmire provided an update on the star forward.

“Lance is coming along really well at the moment. He is working on his strength and making sure he has a really strong foundation,” Longmire said.

“He has been really terrific through the off season. He hasn’t really been away so he has been working really hard during that block to getting himself in the best possible shape he can be.

“The goal is to get him strong – that’s the goal for Lance at this stage, and whenever we get him strong enough to ramp up his training, that is the most important thing,” he said when asked about Franklin’s return.

“We haven’t pencilled in any particular point in time, other than to make sure he is nice and strong through the core and resilient as possible to get him through the season.

“It’s very clear he is an important player, but what has been the opportunity over the last couple of years, it has allowed our younger players to come through and play a fair bit of footy without him.

“That is not necessarily a bad thing in the development of those younger players, so we look at Lance as an important player, but those other guys have been able to add to our forward line and we will continue to see the strength of those guys grow over the next couple of years.”

Isaac Heeney and Dane Rampe also returned to the training group this morning, after both players saw their 2020 seasons cut short through injury.

“Isaac is an important player who also missed a fair bit of 2020. He is coming along really well, has done a lot of training in the off-season, and has been preparing really well,” Longmire said.

“He is a real pro, so the real challenge for him is to not have him train too much, but to make sure that we hold him back a little bit because he is really keen to get out of the blocks and train with the whole group.

“We want to make sure his ankle and running is really strong and sound, and he is preparing for the whole season, not just the first week of pre-season.

“Dane Rampe had an operation when he got back from the hub, and obviously didn’t play the back end of 2020, which was disappointing for him and us, but the good thing is his hand has healed really well and he is back training now and doing everything.

“It’s great to have one of the skippers in the training program.”

With the opening rounds of the 2021 season confirmed, and five Saturday games in the first six rounds for Sydney, Longmire is looking forward to the season ahead and seeing Swans members and fans back at the SCG.

“It’s fantastic to have so many Saturday games early in our schedule. It’s terrific for the families, to get them along to the SCG, and we are really hoping to get back in front of our crowds, our home crowd in particular, to get back in front of the people that really support us to thank them and to also show some of the development of our younger group,” Longmire said.

“We are really looking forward to getting back on the SCG and getting in front of as big as a crowd as we can possibly get.”

The Sydney Swans will open their season with a Round 1 match against Brisbane at the Gabba before returning to the SCG in Round 2 to take on Adelaide in an afternoon clash starting at 1:45pm on Saturday, March 27.

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