Sydney coach John Longmire will continue backing his exciting young brigade despite welcoming back his oldest player for Sunday’s AFL clash with Carlton.
Longmire says premiership-winning defender Ted Richards is the “logical choice” to replace injured recruit Michael Talia for the Etihad Stadium clash after recovering from a nagging calf strain that sidelined the 33-year-old for the entire pre-season.
But he has no plans to overhaul his starting line-up after a youthful Swans outfit featuring Callum Mills, George Hewett and Tom Papley destroyed Collingwood by 80 points in a one-sided season opener last Saturday.
Longmire will stick with all three youngsters when he names his side on Thursday, believing they will only get better after being exposed to the AFL pressure-cooker for the first time at the SCG.
“All three brought something different to the table,” the coach said on Wednesday.
“Most of all, all three of them brought enthusiasm … and that enthusiasm spreads amongst the older players.”
Papley was the biggest surprise, booting three goals on debut and impressing Longmire with his forward-line pressure.
“Georgie Hewett’s been waiting in the wings for a couple of years and he’s built up his strength and his ability to play for four quarters,” said Longmire.
“He had seven tackles; all effective, and he’s got great composure with the ball.
“Callum Mills played mainly half-back – a little bit on the wing – and he’s hard at the ball, he’s a quality ball user, a good player.”
Longmire, though, knows he has some decisions to make in the coming weeks as veterans Jarrad McVeigh (hamstring) and Ben McGlynn (calf) also return to the mix.
“But we’ll address them when we need to,” he said.
The Swans will be up against a rejuvenated Blues outfit and Longmire knows it’d be dangerous to underestimate them after they ran Richmond close in the season opener, only to go down by nine points.
“Carlton, we know what they can do. We played them a couple of weeks ago; they were terrific. Their performance last week was fantastic,” he said.
“They’ve got a real system, some good young players. I’m sure they’re going to surprise a few teams this year so we need to prepare for their best – and we will.”
Longmire also confirmed big guns Lance Franklin and Dan Hannebery as certain starters after copping knocks against Collingwood.