AFL: Sydney co-captain Adam Goodes is comfortable with his form heading into the AFL finals and feels no pressure to lift in September.
Goodes suffered a serious quad injury on May 5 against Adelaide, the team the Swans will tackle on Saturday at AAMI Stadium for a place in a preliminary final.
Since returning in round 13 against Geelong on June 22, questions about Goodes’ form have been routinely asked at Swans coach John Longmire’s weekly press conference.
Would he return to his best? Was he fully fit? When would he bust games open in the fashion that won him two Brownlow medals? Why is the club’s games record holder struggling so much to regain his touch?
The 32-year-old couldn’t really understand it all.
“That’s what everyone is saying (I’ve been below my best),” Goodes said on Tuesday.
“I know from inside here, I’m not getting any pressure from coaches or players about my form.
“I feel like I’m up and about, and it’s finals footy – it doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past 23 weeks.”
Goodes will always have match-winner potential, but his club’s depth this season means it has been required less often.
He said there’ll be no extra burden on him during finals.
“I think with any finals campaign, we’re not asking any one player to come out and do more than what they’ve been able to do in the season,” he said.
“Finals footy is different. The pressure goes up. But one thing I do know is that you don’t need to personally play better.
“We’re not asking individuals to go up and beyond what they’ve been able to produce this season.
“Because when you start to do that, that’s when finals can bite you on the butt.”
Nick Smith (hamstring tightness) and Sam Reid (glute) missed the Swans’ last-start loss to Geelong, but trained well at the SCG on Tuesday and are expected to return.
“Both are keen to do the full session on Thursday, and obviously if they do that they’ll come into the team,” Longmire said.
Longmire rated the midfield battle as the deciding factor in his side’s clash with the Crows.
“Their midfield, if you look at (Sam) Jacobs, (Patrick) Dangerfield, (Scott) Thompson – there’s probably three starters in an All-Australian midfield really.
“They’ve got some absolute quality and class in that part of the ground, and that is our biggest challenge this week.”