Longmire happy with opening points but wary of Dockers unloading
They may be coming off a 10-goal first-round victory, but Sydney coach John Longmire says his team’s performance this week will give him a truer gauge of where they sit early in the 2012 season.
The AFL’s round-one ladder leaders – courtesy of their percentage building 63-point win over Greater Western Sydney – play Fremantle at the SCG on Saturday, and Longmire says the clash will be a yardstick for the Swans, particularly after the Dockers defeated the defending premiers, Geelong, in Perth on Saturday.
”It will really test our team,” he said yesterday. ”This year, Fremantle have had a good strong pre-season and they have some super players in their line-up. They will be up and about, we know that for sure, and we have to make sure we match them early and really take it up to them.
”It’s a good test for us, on our home ground and we would like to better our record [at home] compared to what we had last year.”
Last season, the SCG was only a fortress for the meek, with the only Swans wins coming against four of the bottom seven teams. They lost the other four games to top teams Carlton, Hawthorn, and Geelong, and also to 10th-placed Fremantle.
”We played a couple of the really good teams here and we need to increase, across the board, our general measurement against the best teams,” Longmire said. ”When we come up against Freo this week … they need to be talked about among the top teams in the competition – their round one and NAB Cup form certainly suggests that.
”I thought they were very good to have five goals to zero halfway through the first quarter against last year’s premiers, and to beat them by 18 in contested possessions … they are up and about early in the year.”
While his team was a comfortable winner in round one, Longmire said he would consider changes this week, notably in the ruck where the Swans face a different giant, 211-centimetre ruckman Aaron Sandilands.
In round one he used just one specialist ruckman in Shane Mumford and then pinch-hit Lewis Roberts-Thomson in the ruck to give Mumford a breather. But Longmire is considering bringing former West Coast tall Mark Seaby in to help combat Sandilands.
”It’s something we will consider. It’s been good to have Mark Seaby in really good form in our reserves for the last few weeks. Certainly Sandilands on the weekend, his first quarter was really impressive. He’s such a massive presence on the ground and he was in really good touch after missing three weeks with a calf [injury]. It [the ruck contests] is a big part of the game that we need to make sure we are aware of and Seaby will come into calculations.
”Sandilands is one you need to have a real think about because you can sometimes play two ruckmen against him and he’ll [still] get the tap outs anyway. He’s had a good game on the weekend but Seaby is experienced and we know Mummy at his best is a really good player as well.”
Longmire said Ryan O’Keefe and Rhyce Shaw – who missed the GWS game – would also come into selection calculations provided they could train solidly today and on Thursday.