Sydney Swans champion Josh Kennedy is yet to make up his mind about playing on next year. Either that, or coach John Longmire isn’t giving anything away.
Kennedy technically edged one game closer to his 300-game milestone on Saturday as the medical substitute despite not being used in the Swans’ crushing 73-point triumph over the Giants.
The 34-year-old, who has played 290 matches and would need to extend into next season to reach 300, is yet to return to the senior side since recovering from a serious hamstring injury.
He has played three consecutive VFL contests, including winning 25 disposals and laying six tackles for Sydney’s reserves after the seniors got the job done.
The Swans gatecrashed the top four with their fourth-straight win – the first time they have achieved that this year – and that promises to make a potential fairytale finish more difficult for the former co-captain.
Players such as prized early draftees Logan McDonald and Braeden Campbell, veteran defender Harry Cunningham and forwards Sam Wicks, Ben Ronke and Hayden McLean are also stuck at the lower level.
“I had a brief chat with him a couple of weeks ago about how he’s feeling about (playing on),” Longmire said of Kennedy.
“He said, ‘All I want to do is get back and play this year’, so he’s very much a live-in-the moment-type of person.
“He’s just wanting to get his body right and come back and play, so that’s the way he wanted to approach it. Josh will be the driver of that.”
Longmire oftens fends off selection-related questions at his Monday media conferences by leaning on it being too early in the week to answer and he did so again about Kennedy’s chances of facing North Melbourne.
He said there would be more than just sentiment involved, particularly in regards to Kennedy’s impending milestone, when deciding whether Kennedy continued into a 17th season.
The coach expects ruckmen Tom Hickey and Peter Ladhams to both available this weekend, the latter after missing the past three games with a broken thumb on his dominant right hand.
At what level Ladhams returns at remains to be determined, Longmire said, especially with Sam Reid’s renaissance season as a forward-ruck creating a “good problem”.
With that in mind, he is wary of the last-placed Kangaroos’ centre-bounce prowess, especially after Sydney needed to kick the final four goals against them in round 4 to escape with an 11-point victory.
That is partly why Longmire won’t even contemplate viewing the clash as a possible percentage-booster that could help the Swans’ top-four hopes.
“They’ve obviously changed coach the last three weeks, their clearance stuff is through the roof and their ground-balls are No.1 in the comp, so we’re still mindful of what they can do when they well,” Longmire said .
“We got an experience of that first-hand early in the year.”