Sydney club leaders admit teammates have been affected by the persistent crowd vilification of Adam Goodes but vow to supply the best response with a strong AFL performance against Adelaide on Saturday.
Co-captains Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack, coach John Longmire and chief executive Andrew Ireland all said on Thursday they expected Goodes to resume playing after some time off, despite suggestions he could quit the game due to the persistent booing from opposition fans.
Midfielder Jack said the Swans’ first priority was supporting Goodes, but revealed the situation had taken a toll on other players in the team, which has slumped to an 89-point loss to Hawthorn and a 52-point loss to West Coast in the last two weeks.
“It’s affecting him, it’s affecting our playing group because we’re seeing a mate genuinely hurting through this,” said Jack.
“We’ve lost two in a row and we need to get back and play some good footy, so I think that the best way the playing group can respond to this is by coming out and playing really well on the weekend.
“We’ll focus on this week because it’s brutally important that we do.”
On indefinite leave as he ponders how to proceed, Goodes wasn’t at training on Thursday and won’t play against the Crows at the SCG.
Jack said playing and training should be a sanctuary for players and it was a huge thing that Goodes felt unable to do those things at present.
“He puts on such a brave face Adam when he comes to the club and he takes it all on his shoulders and he says `don’t worry about me boys, I’m fine,'” Jack said.
“As football players you can almost come out to the football field and escape a lot of issues and problems that you have.
“For Adam, he doesn’t see that as an option. It’s something he can’t get away from at the moment and it’s really upsetting to see it.”
Asked why things had come to a head this week, McVeigh said “I can’t speak for Goodesy, but the time has come when we’ve just had enough and it’s time to put a stop to it.”
Longmire and McVeigh stressed Goodes was getting plenty of backing outside of the club and his family, much from the wider AFL and sporting coimmunities.
“There’s a lot of support from a lot of other players in the AFL, a lot of the other captains and we’re extremely thankful for their support,” McVeigh said.
Longmire added: “It’s great to see the solidarity across the whole competition and in other sports. It means a lot and importantly it means a lot to Adam.”
Longmire said his players could empathise with Goodes and still concentrate on beating Adelaide.
“We’re confident we’ll get out minds on the game,” Longmire said.
“We’ve got a job to do this week and we expect to go out and do it.”