Preparing for what could be his last AFL game, Adam Goodes gave a public show of support for struggling fellow Sydney superstar Lance Franklin.
Goodes wore Franklin’s number 23 at training at the SCG on Thursday, the same day the Swans publicly slammed “unfair” rumours about Franklin’s absence while he battles mental health issues.
While Franklin has been ruled out for the rest of the season and is expected back next season, dual Brownlow Medallist Goodes faces a huge decision in coming days about whether to call it quits following his 17th season.
The end could come as early as Saturday if the Swans lose their semi-final against North Melbourne at ANZ Stadium.
If they win, the 35-year-old will have to gird himself for a potentially highly-charged preliminary final against West Coast at Perth’s Domain Stadium.
It was at the same ground and against the same opponents that relentless booing of Goodes by Eagles supporters in late July prompted him to take a week’s break after being similarly vilified at several away games this year.
Goodes was again subjected to some booing by Fremantle fans at Domain Stadium in last weekend’s qualifying final defeat but still produced a top-notch performance in his 371st senior appearance.
Swans supporters will attend Saturday’s game against the Kangaroos not knowing whether they are seeing Goods in action for the last time.
However Sydney defender Rhyce Shaw, who has already announced he will retire at the end of the season, didn’t feel Swans supporters would be denied a chance to properly say goodbye.
“If it is his last game, they are there and they are supporting him,” Shaw said on Thursday.
“It’s not like they are not going to get a chance to see him. He’s actually playing this week and hopefully a couple of more weeks after that.
“The club and Goodesy have said they are going to wait to the end of the year to see what happens and he’s right.
“Hopefully he’s got a few more games left that the Swans (fans) can come out and see him if it is his last year, or if he plays on again.”
Shaw was non-committal when asked if Goodes should play on next year.
“I don’t know, it’s a tough one,” Shaw said.
“It’s really up to Adam individually and I know he’s concentrating on this week.”
For his part, Shaw felt announcing his imminent retirement has had a liberating effect on his game.
“It was a good time for me to announce it, and it probably has freed up me a little bit,” Shaw said.
“I’ve really been concentrating on my footy and getting the best out of myself every weekend.
He was philosophical about the unavailability of Franklin, who he has texted a couple of times since the forward started his indefinite leave from the game.
“Lance Franklin is one of the premier players in the competition so he is a loss, but we can’t do much about it,” Shaw said.