When Adam Goodes slotted a trio of goals in Sydney’s win over West Coast on Sunday, it reinforced my thoughts that, while all the talk about the Swans has centred around Buddy Franklin and Kurt Tippett, the dual Brownlow medal winner will be crucial come September.
As Sydney – yes, that team humiliated by the Greater Western Sydney Giants in Round 1 back in March – climbed to the top of the AFL ladder, with their record-setting 11th consecutive win, it was Goodes who commanded most attention.
The success of Sydney has always been based on every one of their players playing their roles each weekend. If, as John Longmire (and Paul Roos before him) says, they all do that, then the team can and will be successful.
Goodes has now become the perfect role player. In the past he also played his role, but back then it was the starring role of the team. And although he would often make sacrifices to his own game for the benefit of the team, he was still an incredible standout.
The man who once played 204 consecutive matches has spluttered a little over the past few seasons as age has chased him down. But when it looked like the 34-year-old might be in trouble after suffering a knee injury in Round 13 last year, he has made it back.
Having slowly built up his fitness, he is starting to show he can now make an impact for the Swans as they chase their second flag in three seasons.
I’m sure there were times Goodes may have felt his career was finished. I remember one former Swan told me that age suddenly catches you. You can be feeling fine one week, thinking you are just a little slower than you used to be but still competitive, and then bang, you don’t see it coming, it knocks you down and your career is done.
As Goodes battled to make it back from his knee problems, naturally those thoughts would have entered the mind of one of the strongest-minded people I’ve ever spoken to.
But the Australian Of The Year made it back, and made it to match number 341 on Sunday, edging his way beyond Andrew McLeod to claim the record for most AFL games played by an Indigenous footballer.
And judging by what he has shown, he might not have the same to give as the old Adam Goodes, but he still has something to offer and it will be invaluable to the Swans.
He won’t dominate a game, he won’t explode out of stoppages or take a couple of bounces and run away from opponents. He may not ever collect another three votes in a single game from the umpires, but he will do exactly what coach Longmire wants. He’ll contribute and play his role, put pressure on and, as we saw on Sunday, he will kick goals and he’ll be significant in a completely different way.
Who knows what next year holds. I’d say he’ll listen intently to his body and then decide.
But right now, if he can continue to contribute and continue to benefit from having Franklin and Tippett in the forward line, then Adam Goodes could end up with another premiership medal to go with the pair he already owns.