Swans coach Paul Kelly sounded like he had regressed to a time when he could barely see over the counter at the candy store.
Such was his exuberance at announcing he had a glut of players to choose from before the Swans’ round 13 AFL North West clash against the Moree Suns at No.1 Oval on Saturday.
It’s the reverse of the situation that faced the Swans in their previous match, when they could only manage to field 14 players away to Gunnedah and were duly punished as those 14 players played the whole match.
While it won’t be a full-strength Swans side that confronts the Suns – Tamworth has several “core” players with season-ending injuries – it will “probably” be their strongest side since the beginning of the year, Kelly said.
“I haven’t picked a team yet,” Kelly said on Friday. “I’ve got too many to pick from.
“I’ve got a bit of work to do and once I finish that I’ll try and pick the team and probably post it on our Facebook page and go from there. We’ve got a few players back.
“It will be a more competitive team than what we had against Gunnedah. A few more position players.”
It’s a rare ray of sunshine in what has been the gloomiest of seasons for a damaged but resilient side.
Win No.1 for the season is yet to come, but the player turnout this week suggests the drive is still there.
But Kelly would obviously like to have a deep player pool to choose from every week.
“It’s the first time in a long time we’ve had the problem of having too many players, probably,” he said.
“It’s pretty exciting to know we’re not quite at our best but we’re pretty close to the best side we can possibly field at the moment.
“It’s always good to go into a game like that – not being under the pump before we start. We’re going in pretty confident. The boy’s are pretty excited.”
The hear Kelly utter the words “pretty confident” and “pretty excited”, given what his team has endured this season, is unexpected.
And what’s more, he is not satisfied.
He wants to see the Swans reduce their turnovers inside the forward 50.
“That’s been a big issue,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of key forwards back tomorrow, so that should help us out a lot.”
Another benefit of having a full squad is being able to rest midfielders. The Swans have not had that “luxury” a lot this season.
Kelly said: “That’s [the midfield] probably our problem area at the moment … Against Gunnedah, they [the Bulldogs] kept rotating players through the midfield, whereas [Swans] Tom Kelly and Todd Jones, they don’t get to have a rest.
He added: “Hopefully tomorrow those blokes will get a bit of a rest.”
Kelly praised midfielder Ed George, 16, saying the teen had to “step up” this season and will have a “critical role” on Saturday.
In the other match on Saturday, Inverell host the Kangaroos.