‘Not an even comp’: Swans’ Longmire denies byes benefit

Joanna Guelas |

Victory over Geelong sent Sydney two games clear at the top of the AFL.
Victory over Geelong sent Sydney two games clear at the top of the AFL.

Sydney coach John Longmire has shot down suggestions his club gained an unfair advantage when the AFL handed them two early season byes, but remains open to further tinkering with what he called an “uneven competition”.

The Swans’ fixture for 2024 included byes in rounds five and 12 as a result of their inaugural opening-round match.

Having defeated Geelong in their first game after the second of those byes, they sit at the top of the ladder – two wins clear of the pack and boasting the highest percentage.

Meanwhile, some clubs have yet to enjoy a  bye, with Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs among the teams that will have to wait until next round for their only rest weekend.

Sydney chairman Andrew Pridham has spoken out to deny there was any correlation between the club’s results and their fixturing, pointing to the 13th-placed Brisbane Lions who also had two byes.

Carlton, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney, Collingwood, Richmond and Melbourne are the other clubs to have been handed two byes this season, with mixed results.

“Andrew was just pointing out that it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the only reason we’ve had a good year to date,” Longmire said on Wednesday.

“Everyone forgets that we went from two or three practice games straight into the season.

“We had a nine-week block there that was pretty solid. We didn’t have that bye at the start of the season that other teams had.”

But well aware of the current inequalities across the competition, Longmire is open to adjusting the current fixturing of byes.

John Longmire (centre) addresses the Swans.
The AFL is not an even competition for a whole host of reasons, Swans coach John Longmire (c) says. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

“It’s not an even competition. Anyone that says it is isn’t talking sense,” he said, raising additional examples of home-ground advantage and travel.

“(Bye fixturing) could be one thing that maybe we can control as a competition, that might be worth thinking about for next year.”

Sydney travel to Adelaide to take on the Crows on Saturday night, with utility Robbie Fox a test to play following a shoulder injury.

Club captain Callum Mills remains on the sidelines as he battles back after shoulder and calf injuries.

“It’s hard to say at the moment (how long Mills will be out). He just needs a good training block,” Longmire said.

“He’s been pulling up well from the training he’s done at the moment. The next couple of weeks he will really ramp that up and we’ll see how he goes.”