Sydney coach John Longmire couldn’t fault his charges’ efforts in a close home loss to Collingwood, although two of his co-captains didn’t have much luck.
Some will call it a bold coaching move from Swans mentor John Longmire. Some will label it a massive risk.
But selecting Adam Goodes in their team to meet Carlton in Saturday’s knockout semi-final at ANZ Stadium is a decision which has to be made.
The inspirational Swans leader and dual Brownlow Medal winner hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury in the Round 13 game against Port Adelaide on June 22.
It was only around a fortnight ago Longmire dented the aspirations of Swans fans when he said that while Goodes was back running, he still hadn’t trained.
It appeared to even the most optimistic, Goodes wouldn’t be a part of Sydney’s finals campaign.
But after a taking part in a 75 minute training session in searing Sydney heat on Tuesday, Goodes put himself well and truly in the frame to be a major talking point when the Swans match committee met yesterday morning.
And they should pick, risk or not.
Apart from missing three consecutive games in his debut season back in 1999, the only other time during his incredible, club record, 331 game career Goodes has missed more than a single match was last season.
He injured his quadricep – ironically on June 22 – and missed five matches, and while his return against Geelong brought just a seven possession performance, his presence and leadership on the park was vital in Sydney’s win.
And it will be the same against Carlton. He won’t be anywhere near his top, there is obviously no way he can be, but what he will bring to the team on the field will be invaluable.
It was something they could have used last Friday night when Hawthorn got away from them in the third term.
Sure Goodes has the potential to be a match-winner, but this will be more about his leadership in a big game, and the settling influence he brings to the team.
Some commentators were critical of the Swans’ selection of Lewis Jetta last week.
After just one run in the seconds, Jetta was used as the sub last week against Hawthorn and looked like he was still trying to find his touch when he came onto the MCG.
It’s unlikely Longmire could use both Jetta and Goodes this week and, given the choice, he has to go with the veteran of 23 finals.
A lot comes down to how he goes at this morning’s final training session at the SCG. If there are no problems for Goodes, if he can complete exactly what is asked of him, his name will be one of the first put on the whiteboard for Saturday’s clash with Carlton.
Unlike the good old days which tantalised footy fans, this time around he won’t get the job on Chris Judd, but his presence up in Sydney’s forward line will be significant, and while not crucial, it will be important for a Sydney victory.
A risk? Of course, but that’s what finals are about. You need to take risks both on the park and at the match committee meetings.
The Swans could always leave Goodes out and save him for the preliminary final clash with Fremantle a week, but what a waste that would be if they don’t even get to Perth.
The bottom line though is this. Goodes is, and always has been, all about the team. He won the game’s highest individual award twice, but he won those awards while still playing his team role.
For Goodes, team is first, and it’s the same right now. If he didn’t think he was going to be able to get through a game and contribute, he would be the first one to put his hand up and say no, you can’t pick me.
He hasn’t, so you can guarantee, he is good to go.
Longmire took a punt – albeit after consultation with player and doctor – by leaving Goodes on the field after he injured his knee in last year’s grand final, and not only did he then kick a vital late goal, but his role was inspirational.
It can be again at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.