Coach John Longmire insists Adam Goodes will still play a part in Sydney’s premiership push despite being dropped to reserves for the first time in his illustrious 17-season AFL career.
Longmire says the dual Brownlow medallist volunteered to be relegated rather than sit on the bench for Saturday’s derby against Greater Western Sydney at the SCG.
Goodes only got 15 minutes in Sydney’s big win over Port Adelaide last weekend and told Longmire he’d prefer to play a full 100 minutes on Saturday.
“We were more than happy to play him sub again but he suggested to play reserves, get some quality game time, get some form and fitness back and be able to push for senior selection after that,” Longmire said.
“He thought that was probably the way to go.”
Goodes’ self-styled axing means he will line up in the Swans’ curtain-raiser against the University of Western Sydney Giants in the NEAFL, marking the first time the four-time All-Australian will play reserves since he was a teenage rookie in 1998.
Goodes made his senior debut the following year and won the 1999 Rising Star award.
Despite critics – and even two-time premiership-winning teammate Jude Bolton – saying the 35-year-old may have played one season too many, Longmire says he hasn’t discussed retirement with the 353-game superstar.
“We want him to keep going and he’s keen to keep going,” Longmire said.
“And as we sit here at the moment, we still think he’s got a valuable role to play for us this year because he finished last season off for us quite strongly.
“We’re only round three, there’s a lot of football to go and things can change quickly as far as injury and form (is concerned).
“We’re certainly mindful of that and so is Adam. Things can change in a heartbeat.”
The 2012 premiership coach said Goodes’ shock gesture was a mark of the man – the 2014 Australian of the Year no less – and his willingness to put his team first.
“Adam is very much team orientated and wants to do whatever role the team wants him to play,” Longmire said.
“We still think he can play as a sub this year and play in our best 21 this year.”
Goodes’ relegation, which will almost certainly mean a return for Ben McGlynn on Saturday, overshadowed all other Swans news in the build-up to a Sydney derby featuring two undefeated teams after two rounds.
After stunning Sydney in the opening round last year, the fast-improving Giants genuinely believe they can pull off another huge boilover.
“I expect them to say that,” Longmire said.
“They are a hard team, not just a talented team now. They have some great senior players in that team that lead the way.”