Sydney coach John Longmire isn’t using the word rebuild but says it’s time for him and his AFL side to evolve after their 41-point AFL derby loss to GWS.
Confronting an unprecedented challenge in his AFL coaching career, Sydney mentor John Longmire says he and his team must evolve.
Sydney’s hopes of a 10th consecutive finals berth are fading fast after they slipped to 1-5 for the year with a 41-point loss to GWS in Saturday night’s derby.
Longmire’s team bounced back from a horror 0-6 start in 2017 to reach the finals.
That was the first time in VFL/AFL history that any side had started a season with five losses and contested finals, underlining how unlikely the Swans’ path to September was.
The current side is also far more inexperienced and youthful than the 2017 team.
“Over the last 15-20 years, we’ve been having a real crack,” Longmire pondered after the derby defeat.
“We’re still going to have a crack but we’re also going to keep bringing through that next bunch of players – and keep teaching and developing.
“We’ve just got to keep teaching them to play footy … we’ll try and fast-track it as quick as we can.”
Longmire didn’t use the word ‘rebuild’ during his post-match press conference but adopted a philosophical attitude after the loss, especially regarding the steep learning curve for his club’s youngsters.
“Losses are important, we understand that. We’ve got to teach our players to play football, and the younger players to play football together,” the coach said.
“I don’t say that lightly. It’s a different group and we’re just teaching them.
“We’re trying as hard as we can to get that team up and going, in a competitive way, as soon as we can.
“I actually really enjoyed the challenge tonight … and I hope our senior players did too because we need to evolve the team.”
Longmire coached from the bench at the SCG against the Giants, giving him a chance to deliver one-on-one feedback directly to players.
“I’ve got to evolve too. I’ve done a little bit of it over the pre-season, recognising the changing (nature) of the group,” Longmire said.
Lance Franklin was a late withdrawal from the derby because of a hamstring strain.
Franklin joined former captains Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh, veteran defenders Heath Grundy and Nick Smith, ruckman Sam Naismith and former Geelong forward Daniel Menzel on the sidelines for the Swans.
Longmire is upbeat a disappointed Franklin could return against Brisbane on Saturday.
“We spent a bit of time talking about it, umming and ahhing about it, but we just didn’t take the risk,” he said.
The perennial finalists have now lost seven of their past eight games at the SCG, a venue that has been a fortress for so much of the past decade.