THE Sydney Swans have always enjoyed the welcome mat put out for them in Coffs Harbour but this morning the AFL powerhouse was given a pleasant surprise.
The Swans played an intra-club practice match at C.ex Coffs International Stadium and arrived to find the ground gave them a nice reminder of home.
"I think they even measured it out to the same size as the SCG which is fantastic," Sydney coach John Longmire remarked.
In humid conditions the Swans mixed and matched the players between the green and gold bibs as the squad stepped up its preparations for the 2014 AFL season which is only six and a half weeks away.
While Longmire admitted playing against teammates instead of genuine opposition isn't a perfect preparation, he said there were somne positives to come out of today's session.
"It's hard playing against yourselves when you know what each other's trying to do but we tried a few different things today, particularly for that first 20 minutes, some of the older blokes played a bit of a different style against the younger kids and the younger kids handled it pretty well, so we got a fair bit out of it," the coach said.
"A few of the players that missed a bit of footy last year like (Rhyce) Shaw and (Sam) Reid and those blokes started to come back in and played a bit."
The 2012 premiership coach was also impressed with the younger members of the squad and how they acquitted themselves against more experienced players.
"The first part of it the young kids were all good, they played against our senior group and I think they might've even rolled them which was good to see," he said.
"I thought a few of the kids did a good job.
"The senior players like (Jarrad) McVeigh, (Kieren) Jack, (Nick) Malceski and (Ben) McGlynn, those types of players did well but (Dean) Rampe and (Jeremy) Laidler then some of the young kids like (Toby) Nankervis really started to play well as well."
While the players gave their all during the hitout (without tackling too hard), the final whistle didn't mean the end of a gruelling session which showed the Swans mean business while they're in Coffs Harbour.
"It was a really tough one today, probably one of the toughest ones we've had this pre-season so far," Longmire said.
"A fair bit of match practice and still finished off with some more drills so it was a long session."