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Swans coach Longmire excited by AFL finals

Straight from the Horse’s mouth, it’s “bloody exciting”.

And for Sydney coach John Longmire, nicknamed the Horse, that’s about as expansive as he gets.

“AFL finals are about embracing the moment: the big-game moments, the courageous moments, and the BLOODY EXCITING moments,” he wrote in a missive to Swans members this week.

“We are committed to making the most of every moment and seizing the opportunity before us.

“It is bloody exciting and we can’t wait to see what September brings.”

Longmire, renowned for keeping his cards close to his chest, knows exactly what September brings.

Since 1996, Sydney have missed the finals just five times.

And with Longmire as head coach, he’s led the Swans to the promised land in 10 of his dozen seasons at the helm.

Longmire captured the 2012 premiership, with grand final losses in 2014 and 2016.

The no-finals outliers in his tenure are 2019-20.

And in many regards, 2019 was an abrupt turning point for Longmire – and the genesis of how the Swans got back to where the coach belongs, playing finals.

In 2018, Longmire’s Swans were beaten in an elimination finals by cross-town rivals GWS. The 49-point drubbing stung Longmire.

And it prompted much introspection, with the coach conceding that without change, Sydney would remain also-rans.

“It’s always hard when you are in finals to say you are a bit off the pace,” Longmire has said of the 2018 fall-out.

“But you do have to be mindful in those moments of the decisions you make and how it can impact you.

“If you think you are at the pointy end and it affects your decision-making, it can set you back further.

“You have your recruiting priorities and your salary cap and it just meant we went to the draft.

“I am fortunate to work with (recruiter) Kinnear Beatson and have done for 20 years so we weren’t afraid to embrace the draft and probably didn’t have much choice.

“So that’s what we did.”

At the 2018 draft, the Swans picked up Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney and Robbie Fox.

At the 2019 draft, Sydney’s selections included Chad Warner and Dylan Stephens.

The club’s 2020 draft crop was headlined by Logan McDonald and Tom Hickey (from West Coast) with NSW zone picks Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden.

Most of that batch of players from three drafts are now mainstays as Longmire mixed them with established headliners such as Lance Franklin, Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Tom Papley and Luke Parker.

Longmire had double-vision: produce a team winning of finals while also regenerating the Swans, knowing a long rebuild in the fickle market of Sydney isn’t palatable.

“You try to do two things at once: be competitive and blood young players,” Longmire said last year.

“We have been able to do it for a long time – 2016 was the grand final, 2017 and 2018 we were still playing finals.

“We want to give our players every opportunity to play finals every year and it’s a responsibility we think we have got.

“But there is also a reality to that.

“We have played a lot of young players for a long time now and we don’t have an inclination to be down too long.

“It’s important it’s not just a spike. It needs to be sustainable.”


Games: 259 (165 wins, 92 losses, 2 draws)

Finals: 21 (10 wins, 11 losses)

Premierships: 1 (2012)

Grand finals: 3 (2012, 2014, 2016)

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