Thursday November 18, 2010. For just the second time in 25 years the AFL draft was not held in Melbourne. It was at the Gold Coast Convention Centre ahead of the Suns’ entry to the AFL in 2011. And mixed in with one of the great draft selections of all-time the best recruiting minds in the country got some things curiously wrong.

Daniel Gorringe, now best known for his exploits on ‘Big Brother', his role in the ‘Buddybet’ commercials on TV and for having a reported 6.1million followers on TikTok, went to Gold Coast at pick #10.

He went on to play 26 games for Gold Coast and Carlton. … not quite like Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield, Coleman Medallist Harry McKay or Swans young gun Nick Blakey, who were all drafted at #10 in different years and are still playing in the AFL.

But it got worse. Or better for those cruel types who, with the wonderfully precise benefit of hindsight, delight in picking flaws in something that happened 12 years earlier.

Lucas Cook went to Melbourne at #12 and did not play at all. Carlton took Matthew Watson at #18 and got 23 games out of him. Fremantle took Jayden Pitt at #20 for 10 games and Patrick Karnezis, drafted at #25 by Brisbane, played 25 games for Brisbane and Collingwood.

Ariel Steinberg (10 games) went to Essendon at #31, Pat McCarthy (1 game) went to Carlton at #34, Ben Newton (17 games) went to Port Adelaide at #35 and Gold Coast took Jeremy Taylor (10 games) at #39.

Sydney had pick #40 in a draft held in large room where the AFL party were positioned at the front, with the club representatives in a horseshoe in front of them. Each club had two people sitting at the front of their allocated space, with others on a table behind them.

As soon as pick #39 was locked away Swans recruiting boss Kinnear Beatson, sitting at the front, turned around to new coach John Longmire and the rest of the Swans team and said “this kid is just too good to go past”.

And so, in a value for money pick, Luke Parker, an 18-year-old from Langwarrin via the Dandenong Stingrays, became a Swan.

Luke Parker playing with the AIS squad in Perth, 2010

Twelve years on that same barrel-chested lad, who had represented Vic Country at Under-18 level and was chosen in the then TAC Cup Team of the Year, is set to play his 250th AFL game as arguably the ‘dux’ of the 2010 draft.

Parker, with 249 games, 5827 possessions, 188 goals and 126 Brownlow Medal votes, has been arguably the statistical standout from the 2010 draft. He is equal first in games with West Coast’s Jack Darling, second in possessions to West Coast’s Andrew Gaff, sixth in goals behind five specialist forwards, and outright first in Brownlow Medal votes.

And he is a three-time Bob Skilton Medallist and has finished 6th-1st-7th-4th-1st-2nd-3rd-4th-1st in the last nine years. He was runner-up in the Brownlow Medal in 2016, was 5th in 2020 and 11th-16th-15th in 2017-18-21. He was All-Australian in 2016 and an All-Australian squad member 2014 and 2021 and has been an outstanding Swans co-captain since 2019.

Even recruiters today shake their head and admit there were some odd choices when they look back at the 2010 draft. Only Collingwood have an alibi. They did not have a pick before Sydney took Parker at #40. Gold Coast passed on him nine times, Brisbane four times, Geelong, Port Adelaide and West Coast three times.

The unavoidable question is how did he slip so far in the draft?

Beatson says quite simply, that’s the life of a recruiter and all the vagaries that go with it. The impossible task of identifying talent before it has really surfaced in young players who develop in so many different ways at so many different speeds.

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Of Parker specifically, Beatson suggests in hindsight he was possibly a victim of his own early development. Clubs suspected that, because he was already such a strongly built and well-established youngster, there may not have been the same ‘up side’ that could be seen in others who were less advanced.

“He’d been right through the system … Vic Country U16, AIS Academy, Vic Country U18 … every club knew all about him. We knew he was a determined and focussed kid but he hadn’t been shooting the lights out and we hadn’t seen the great leadership of someone like a Joel Selwood that would come later. So perhaps you do wonder how much development is left?”

In that sense Beatson likened Parker to Anthony Banik, a readymade player and automatic #1 pick in the 1989 Draft who played 38 games with Richmond in his first two years and was finished three years later after just 11 more.

Beatson said the Swans had not spent as much time interviewing and researching Parker ahead of the draft as they did others because he wasn’t in the picture for their first pick at #21 and they thought he’d be long gone at #40.

At #21 the Swans had drafted Jed Lamb from the Gippsland Power, who had been chosen in the forward pocket of the TAC Cup Team of the Year, which had Parker at half forward plus the aforementioned Cook, Watson and Karnezis.

Lamb found it difficult to break into the strong Swans line-up, playing just 12 games in 2011-13 before requesting a trade to GWS in search of greater opportunities. The Swans used the compensation pick to recruit Andrejs Everitt from Carlton, while Lamb went on to play 10 games for GWS (2014-15) and 44 games for Carlton (2016-18).

And Parker went on to become a champion who this week will become just the 11th player to reach 250 games for the Swans, is 5th in possessions for the club, 11th in wins and 4th in Brownlow votes. A 2012 Premiership player and member of the Swans losing grand final sides in 2014 and 2016, he has played 19 finals to sit equal 10th on the club’s finals list.

Luke Parker leads the team out, R8 2022

Still 118 days short of his 30th birthday when he will post his 250th against Essendon at the MCG on Saturday, Parker will be the second-youngest Swans player to this mark behind only Goodes. Only Kennedy will have had more possessions and earned more Brownlow votes at the same age.

Yet as good as Parker has been, the one-time junior basketball standout can’t claim to have been the best pick No.40. Not even at the Swans.

Michael O’Loughlin, 4th on the games list and 2nd for goals, was pick #40 in 1994. And Josh Kennedy, all-time Swans leading possession-winner and 2nd in Brownlow votes, was pick #40 to Hawthorn in 2006.

So too was Freddie Campbell, who was picked at #40 ahead of #43 Adam Goodes in 1997 and played five games for Sydney and seven games for St Kilda. And waiting for his AFL opportunity is Corey Warner, who was pick #40 in last year’s draft.

Overall pick #40 has been disproportionally productive across the AFL since the first Draft in 1986, also producing dual Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett Jr (357 games), and 200-gamers Jobe Watson (220), Chris Mayne (248), Matthew Lappin (251) and Mitch Robinson (240), plus David Hille (197), Ivan Maric (157), 2011 Geelong premiership player Allen Christensen (133 games), 2021 Melbourne premiership player Alex Neal-Bullen and current Geelong player Tom Stewart.

Parker also sits 7th in games played in jumper #26 in AFL history behind Geelong’s Tom Hawkins (317), Adelaide’s Mark Bickley (272), St Kilda and North player Nick Dal Santo (260), Hawthorn and Brisbane great Rodney Eade (259), Collingwood skipper Gavin Brown (254) and current Hawthorn player Liam Shiels (253). Ex-Swan Stevie Wright (246) is 9th.