There is an amicable awkwardness about the tug of war that has broken out between AFL clubs Sydney and North Melbourne over John Longmire.
North president Ben Buckley, searching for a new coach after parting ways with Brad Scott a month ago, has made a formal approach to club great Longmire through his manager Liam Pickering.
Longmire is contracted to coach Sydney until the end of the 2020 season but could potentially ask for an early release if tempted by a monster offer from the Kangaroos that is tipped to be in the vicinity of $1.5 million per season.
It's understood North made the Swans aware of their desire to sound out Longmire, who played 200 games for the Kangaroos and recently attended their 1999 premiership reunion.
Pickering and the Swans have already started negotiations regarding a contract extension, a point both parties reiterated on Tuesday.
"Horse (Longmire) is our coach, not anyone else's," Swans forward Nick Blakey said on Tuesday.
"We haven't spoken about it at all (as players). That's just media speculation, they can write about that if they want.
"We're really lucky to have Horse as our coach.
"We all love him and want him to stay."
Fellow young gun Will Hayward described the speculation as a mark of respect for the 2012 premiership coach.
"He's a good coach and good coaches are going to get that sort of attention," Hayward told AAP last week.
"It's just a story that is being thrown around ... nothing really changes for us. I'm sure that'll take care of itself over the course of the year."
Reporters have repeatedly asked Longmire about North's interest during recent weeks.
Longmire has always played the straightest of bats, pointing to his current contract and the task at hand, while failing to categorically rule out the possibility like Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has now done regarding rumours about Carlton.
Swans chief executive Tom Harley and chairman Andrew Pridham have both publicly backed Longmire, who has guided the Swans to September every season since taking charge in 2011, to continue at the club.
"We have been - and continue to be - in constant dialogue with John and his management," Swans football manager Charlie Gardiner said on Tuesday.
"We're comfortable with where those discussions are at. As we have said consistently, we're not going to go into detail in relation to those discussions.
"John is contracted for next year and we're absolutely clear that we want him to continue as senior coach beyond next year. He is committed to the club and fully invested in developing our young team."
Gardiner's words came after Pickering revealed he'd received a call from Buckley.
"They just sounded me out," Pickering said on SEN.
"I don't know where it will end up.
"We're also having very good chats with Sydney as well. We're having good chats. Everything's going well."
Australian Associated Press