Fit-again Parker forces Swans axing ahead of derby

Joanna Guelas |

Sydney coach John Longmire (right) chats with an injured Luke Parker (left) and Taylor Adams.
Sydney coach John Longmire (right) chats with an injured Luke Parker (left) and Taylor Adams.

Sydney coach John Longmire is set to swing the axe to make room for returning star Luke Parker, making it just a matter of who gets the chop.

The talismanic midfielder has put up his hand to make his first appearance at senior level when the Swans take on cross-city rivals GWS on Saturday at the SCG, forcing Longmire to mull over the make-up of his most effective side.

Parker has been missing since February after breaking his arm in a pre-season game against the Giants, but his absence has mattered little for the Swans.

After seven rounds, Sydney – also without skipper Callum Mills – are second on the AFL table with a 6-1 record and boast the highest percentage in the league.

Isaac Heeney has starred as a cover for Parker and Mills, emerging as an early Brownlow favourite with an average of 27 disposals, 6.1 clearances and 1.7 goals a game.

Alongside Heeney, Longmire also has red-hot young guns Errol Gulden, Chad Warner and James Rowbottom at his disposal.

Warner had no answers about where the five-time Brett Kirk Medallist could slot in, but welcomed his return.

Parker put together a stand-out performance in the VFL last round to add to his case, notching a game-high 34 disposals, six tackles and five clearances against Box Hill.

“He plays derbies at the top of his list in his career,” Warner said on Wednesday.

“‘Horse’ (Longmire) will obviously have a few tough decisions on his hands, but we’ll have to wait and see. It’d be great if he could play.”

Veteran defender Dane Rampe could also feature, while Mills’ return from a shoulder injury has been delayed after the midfielder suffered a low-grade calf strain last weekend.

GWS coach Adam Kingsley faces a similar selection squeeze with the return of captain Toby Greene and All-Australian defender Sam Taylor.

Without the pair last round, the Giants handed grand finalists Brisbane a 54-point smacking.

Defender Connor Idun believes their waning dependency on Greene is a good sign of their growth.

“It’s good we’re not relying on Toby this year. It’s great for our club that Toby doesn’t have to come in and kick six every week,” Idun said on Wednesday.

“There’s pressure for spots. It is tough but it puts everyone on notice.”

While Greene was handed a one-match ban for a rough conduct charge on Carlton defender Jordan Boyd, Taylor was made to sit on the sidelines with concussion after a sickening head clash with St Kilda’s Jack Steele.

Taylor was stretchered off the field and taken to hospital, but Idun says the 24-year-old has recovered well.

“That (concussion) won’t change a thing. He’s from the farm he reckons, so he’s been fighting pigs all his life,” Idun said.

“He loves it. He’s fine.”

Stephen Coniglio (knee) could also be cleared to play, after the midfielder sustained a small medial collateral ligament tear also against the Saints.