Longmire pays tribute to AFL great Kennedy

Rob Forsaith
Sydney Swans coach John Longmire has paid tribute to the late club great John Kennedy Sr (pic)

Within hours of learning his grandfather had died, Sydney skipper Josh Kennedy made it clear to coach John Longmire he wanted to play that night's AFL game.

Thursday night's loss to Western Bulldogs was an emotive occasion for the Swans, whose players donned two black armbands.

One was for Sam Naismith's sister Kristi, who passed away during the league's COVID-19 shutdown, and the other was for John Kennedy Snr.

Naismith suffered a serious knee injury in the final stages of the game and is likely to require a knee reconstruction, with Longmire saying the club must rally around the luckless ruckman.

Kennedy will also need some support as he comes to grips with the death of his grandad.

"He was very close to John," Longmire told reporters.

"Josh found out this morning and I spoke to him a couple of hours afterwards.

"He just had the attitude 'that's what grandad would have wanted'. Get on with the job.

"Josh has an amazing ability to do that and you'd imagine now he probably takes a deep breath and takes it in a bit more."

Longmire also has treasured memories of his time with John Kennedy Snr, his first coach at North Melbourne.

"Kanga came up to recruit me as a 16-year-old kid ... the Corowa Chinese restaurant," Longmire reflected.

"It was a Tuesday in the middle of the season and I couldn't believe he took the time to come up and see me.

"I was lucky enough to spend a couple of years under him as an impressionable 16-year-old from the farm, couldn't have had a better first coach."

Longmire described Kennedy Snr as a "really quality person with amazing values".

"I've never seen a person command a room without saying anything as much as John Kennedy Snr," he said.

"He was just the ultimate person. He was a great human."

Naismith, who missed the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons because of a knee injury, will undergo scans but the club fears he has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).