Sydney coach John Longmire has dismissed suggestions the Swans will rest players and chase percentage boosting wins in their run to the AFL finals, but still wants his side to be ruthless.
The Swans are locked in a three-way battle for top spot with Hawthorn and Geelong and are sandwiched between those sides on percentage with three rounds remaining.
They finish off at home to St Kilda (last), away to the Bulldogs (14th) and host Richmond (12th), but Longmire said there had been no talk at the club about aiming for big victories to move their percentage above Hawthorn’s.
Nine Swans including veterans Ted Richards, Heath Grundy, Jarrad McVeigh and Nic Malceski have played every game, but Longmire has no intention of resting players prior to the finals.
“We make sure we play our best available squad,” Longmire said.
“If we need to freshen them up, they’ll miss some training sessions, as we’ve done during the course of the year.
“If they are sore, they won’t play, but if they are up and ready to go, they will play.”
Asked if his philosophy was similar to the no rotation policy of Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann, Longmire said “It’s probably a reasonable philosophy, it’s worked alright for ‘Boof’ (Lehmann).”
Heading into Saturday’s SCG clash with the struggling Saints, Longmire is sticking doggedly to the maxim any team can beat any other team on a given day,
“We always plan for the opposition’s best. We saw what happened with St Kilda-Freo a few weeks ago,” Longmire said.
“You need to be at your best every time and be absolutely professional and ruthless in your approach, no matter who you are playing, and hitting teams like that.”
Defender Nick Smith, who was a late withdrawal from last week’s game against Port Adelaide, is his only injury concern.
“He’s okay today, we won’t know till the end of the week, hopefully he does training on Thursday and he pulls up well from that.
With Smith available Sydney are virtually at full strength, but Longmire insisted players like young midfielders Tom Mitchell and Zak Jones could still push for selection over the closing rounds.
He said the rounds before the finals would give the likes of recently returned trio Kurt Tippett, Dan Hannebery and Rhyce Shaw opportunities to build their match fitness heading into the finals.