Whilst the 2020 season had it's challenges, coach John Longmire says there was plenty for his side to take from the unusual season which was impacted by COVID-19.
The 'hub' environment, provided an opportunity for the young Swans outfit to continue to gel as a unit while injuries to several key players allowed some players to take on different roles.
“We saw last year, when you get over the shock of what happened to the game and the many people we lost through that period in regards to cutbacks, you had to look back at what we were going to get out of the year,” Longmire said.
“One of the things we wanted to do was to keep introducing young players, but the next phase was to keep exposing and looking at them in different positions and see what comes out of it.”
“Tom McCartin went back which we did at the back end of the year before and he was strong, Will Hayward spent a bit of time back and we changed up a couple of different roles and we think that is good for their development and the team’s development too,” he added.
Longmire's stocks of young talent have been further boosted at the recent 2020 AFL Draft with the Swans securing talented West Australian forward Logan McDonald with pick four as well as a handful of QBE Sydney Swans Academy products: Braeden Campbell, Errol Gulden and Marc Sheather (Category B Rookie) while South Australian Malachy Carruthers also joined the club.
“I don’t think there are many clubs that walk out of the draft and are disappointed at the time, and we were happy draft night to come out of it with Logan McDonald who we consider a really good prospect as a key forward. It’s something we looked at on our list build but also where we rated him as a player,” Longmire said.
“Obviously Braeden Campbell has some fantastic speed, a beautiful kick and some great attributes and Errol Gulden is just a massive competitor and a natural footballer so we are really pleased with what we got out of the national draft and we think we have added some good youth to the young talent we have got on our list already.”
In contrast to the young talent coming through the ranks, Don Pyke has also joined the club as an assistant coach, bringing plenty of valuable experience to the Swans coaching team.
“One thing we were really conscious of, following what were some pretty severe cutbacks last year, was that we knew what would happen coming out of that is that people with broader ranges of experiences and are good at a number of things, would become even more valuable,” Longmire said.
“There is no broader range of experience than being a head coach and I knew Don before he became a head coach, and thought that he could add a number of things to a number of different areas to our footy club through his history and the number of different roles he has played in football and outside of football.”
“We felt what suited him, and what suited us, was a bit more strategic and looking at the opposition. We felt that’s a role we still have to be mindful going forward, even with four less coaches, and those coaches have a lot more players and a lot more responsibility going forward.”
With the pre-season training resuming for the full squad over the last night fortnight and the start of the season looming, Longmire is continuing to focus on the process.
“It’s less about the outcome and more about the process. If I stand up and say where we will be in three years, it takes the focus a little bit away from the process,” Longmire said when asked about the plan for the next few years.
“The process has been not just from now for the next three years, it has been over the last couple of years going forward.”
“We last played finals a couple of years ago and played in the Grand Final in 2016 and have had some retirements of some great players through that period but we have been playing a lot of young players and they have been playing some key roles for us every week,” he continued.
“This has been over the last couple of years and that will continue to happen [playing key roles], but we are looking for those players to keep improving and keep driving the standards of the footy club.”
“We are really confident in that young group coming forward.”
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