SYDNEY'S striking form while based away from home for more than a month is being driven by an experienced midfield group led by warriors Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker, according to coach John Longmire.
While several young Bloods have emerged this season, the Swans' midfield continues to be built around co-captains Kennedy and Parker, with defender-turned-midfielder Callum Mills and, more recently, George Hewett influential in the onball battles.
Parker has impressed all season and is averaging 28 disposals (13 contested), 5.7 clearances and 5.8 score involvements a game while maintaining that consistency in recent weeks. The 28-year-old has also been a threat in the forward half, taking 10 marks inside 50 and kicking 12 goals.
Kennedy spent time on a wing earlier this year, giving onball opportunities to young guns like Chad Warner, but the Swans have thrown the 33-year-old back into the midfield more since the bye. The three-time club champion has helped lead spirited comebacks against Greater Western Sydney and Fremantle, gathering more than 30 disposals including 16 contested possessions in both matches.
"It's critical that leaders of teams really contribute and drive the standards on and off the field and we've been really fortunate for a long time to have a really solid group of core leaders that are experienced, that our younger players can look to," Longmire told reporters on Tuesday.
"That's been an important part of what we do and it continues to be, especially at the moment under trying times and uncertain times.
"You need to have those leaders that are able to focus on the things that they can control and set the standards from week to week, and we're very fortunate to have that really strong group."
Mills is set to re-join the midfield group for the clash with Essendon after completing a period of isolation since his exposure to a Tier 2 site in Melbourne. He is averaging 28 disposals (11 contested) and 5.3 clearances a game in his first season as a full-time onballer.
After four consecutive victories over finals contenders the Swans are now only one win behind fourth-placed Port Adelaide and in a good position to claim a double chance.
Longmire acknowledged that the Swans are "playing some pretty reasonable football" but is adamant that he isn’t eyeing off a top-four finish despite being close to the Power and all of Sydney's remaining matches being against teams currently outside the top eight.
LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?
"We're just looking at Essendon this week. With things changing so much you don't get a lot of opportunities to stick your head up and have a look over the horizon too often, you need to be living in the moment as much as you can," Longmire said.
"It's something that we've tried to do for the six weeks or so that we've been on the road, just try to keep living in the moment and not use too much energy on the things we can't control and making sure we focus on the task at hand.”