Since the turn of the century, Sydney has been one of the few powerhouses in Australian rules football.
Sydney’s run of AFL pre-season fitness woes has continued with boom youngster Isaac Heeney laid low and considered unlikely to play in round one.
Heeney missed last Friday’s pre-season match against GWS Giants with a virus, which the club has now confirmed as glandular fever.
Already ruled out of the Swans’ first game against Port Adelaide are former co-captain Jarrad McVeigh (calf), utility Gary Rohan (back/hamstring) and small forward Tom Papley (knee/shin)..
“We’re really confident that we’ll field a very strong team (for round one), but obviously won’t include Papley, McVeigh, Rohan, and I think Heeney,” Swans’ coach John Longmire said.
“But we’re hoping to get some game time into some more players this week and hopefully that will hold them in good stead for round one.”
Former co-captain Kieren Jack and possibly key defender Aliir Aliir are set to have their first hitout of the campaign in Sydney’s final pre-season match against St Kilda in Albury on Sunday.
Dynamic 20-year-old Heeney was in prime condition prior to his illness.
“He’s had a wonderful pre-season and he’s been in fantastic form and done all the training which should hold him in good stead when he gets back,” Longmire said.
“He’ll rest again this weekend and he’ll get back into a little more training next week.
“We’re not sure when we will get him back. It’s hard to say with something like this, every case is different.
“What we know is we won’t rush him, we’ll make sure he’s fully recovered before we get him back.
“But we’re confident that he will bounce back really quickly into the team in the early part of the season, how early we’re not sure yet.”
There is some good news on the fitness front for Sydney, with Longmire happy with the progress of key forwards Sam Reid and Lance Franklin and ruckman Sam Naismith, all of whom played in last Friday’s game.
“Reidy missed all of last year but he’s had a really good pre-season this year and Lance and Sammy Naismith had off-season surgery, but have bounced back really well and are in good shape,” Longmire said.