SYDNEY coach John Longmire has lavished praise on champion midfielder Josh Kennedy ahead of his 250th game, saying he will eventually retire as one of the game's greats.
The 32-year-old's milestone game is against the Western Bulldogs at the SCG on Thursday night, just five days after the Swans recorded their second win of the season over North Melbourne.
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Kennedy, the son of ex-Hawk John Kennedy jnr and grandson of Hall of Famer John Kennedy snr, played only 13 games in three seasons at Hawthorn before joining Sydney.
He headed to the Harbour City along with fellow ex-Hawk Ben McGlynn after the 2009 season for the modest return of picks 39, 46 and 70.
Kennedy has made 236 appearances in red and white, was an integral member in the 2012 premiership side, is a three-time best and fairest winner and triple All-Australian, and has served as captain since 2017.
Only dual Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett has amassed more career contested possessions, yet he averages three per game more than the Little Master.
"We saw the opportunity for him to maybe, at some stage, take over from Jude Bolton as an inside midfielder," Longmire told reporters of the much-discussed trade.
"Jude was one of our greats, and Jude really helped Josh when he first started here and then they were able to transition that period really smoothly, as far as Jude went to half-forward and Josh played a bit more inside mid.
"They were able to do that in a really seamless fashion and I've been fortunate to be able to see him progress over the years – he's just a very good player."
Kennedy's incredible durability in such a physically demanding position is evidenced in him averaging more than 23 games a season across the past decade at the Swans.
Longmire said the strong-bodied midfielder being an "A-grade character" and ideal role model for younger players made him "very privileged to have coached him".
"I feel very lucky to have coached Josh. He'll go down, whenever he finishes up, as not only one of the club's greats but also one of the all-time greats," Longmire said.
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"His record is extraordinary – not only his consistency from week to week over a long period of time but also how he's got the ability to rise to the biggest occasions.
"Some of his best performances have been in finals games and Grand Finals, when the heat's at its best."
Swingman Tom McCartin (concussion) won't play against the Bulldogs because of the short turnaround but is in "good spirits" and could be back as soon as next week.
However, the Swans could regain No.1 ruckman Sam Naismith, who missed the past fortnight because of a hamstring setback.
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"He's a chance to play," Longmire said of Naismith.
"He's been training for a couple of weeks now and running really hard and doing the training he's needed to do, so we'll see how he goes again tonight."