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Swans and ADF team up

Corporal Simon Parker, Tom Harley, Major General Gus McLachlan, John Longmire and Sergeant Matt Barnes at the SCG.

The heat of battle in the football arena pales in comparison to the intensity of war.

But Army physical training instructors Sergeant Matt Barnes and Corporal Simon Parker have joined forces with the Swans for a two-week stint.

Barnes said they had plenty to absorb in their time with the Swans.

“We’re picking the brains of the systems at the Swans and what we can take out of it, why the Swans do certain things and if there’s any exposure to certain bits of equipment or education,” Barnes said.

“Just anything we’re potentially lacking in Defence.”

Parker said the secondment was a two-way street and pointed to the push to return to action.

“There are a lot of parallels to be drawn. Looking at rehabilitating a soldier or an athlete, both guys really want to be in a section or want to get out there and play in an AFL side,” Parker said.

“So, we’re having a look at what the Swans are doing and what we’re doing within the wider Defence community and seeing where those parallels are.”

Barnes and Parker were behind the scenes for Sydney’s clash with North Melbourne on Saturday and are mainly working with the Club’s strength and conditioning staff.

One glance at the resumes of the 32-year-olds gives a clear indication of the value behind the secondment.

Their Defence duties range from strength and conditioning, rehabilitation and reconditioning, to leadership and team building.

They also carry out a lot of work in soldier-recovery and high-performance centres and haul Defence personnel through a range of adventure activities, from white-water rafting and roping, to rappelling and abseiling.

Barnes was first posted to Kapooka in 2012 and after a subsequent stint in Albury is now based in Brisbane, while Parker began in Albury and hasn’t left.

Barnes was deployed to Afghanistan for a nine-month stint in 2010, while Parker spent six months in the middle-eastern country in 2012.

They have both taken plenty in their stride between 2012 until now where they’re teaming up with the Swans, and Parker says helping a combatant on the road to recovery is the highlight of his job.

“Working in that rehab space and seeing someone make progress and getting back out there is very special,” Parker said.

“Seeing these guys working towards that goal of getting back into the regular force with their peers.

“Achieving that, getting on course, doing well and then getting posted out – it’s a pretty good process to be a part of.”