Gutsy Sydney Swans on-baller Luke Parker is in his element when “the whole state is against you” – and he will get a taste of the thrill in a clash with Fremantle in Perth on Saturday night.
A near-capacity crowd of 53,553 piled in to Optus Stadium when the Swans last descended on the Western Australian venue in the opening round of season 2018, with a swarm of West Coast Eagles fans unloading in a cut-throat welcome.
But in a game that saw Parker pull off a stellar bicycle kick for a Goal of the Year nomination, Sydney stormed to an emphatic 29-point victory.
Parker says he will thrive on the merciless Fremantle reception on Saturday’s trip west.
“It’s always great going over to Perth. It’s one of those trips where the whole state is against you, and the 22 guys on the field are basically against the rest of the stadium,” Parker told SwansTV.
“You notice it especially when it’s tight at crucial points in the game. Their fans really help them build momentum and there’s nothing better than keeping them quiet.”
The Swans have won two of their last three games in Western Australia, their most convincing a 90-point victory over the Dockers at Subiaco Oval in Round 19, 2016.
Sydney and West Coast squared off in the first men’s AFL match at Optus Stadium in history in last year’s opening-round fixture.
“We’ve had some of our best wins over there and I think the boys will take a lot of confidence out of that,” Parker said.
“We’ve played reasonably well there in the past and we’ll be looking to turn things around after last week.”
Sydney’s midfield brigade is set to face the lethal two-punch attack of Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe and four-time All Australian ruckman Aaron Sandilands.
Fyfe is running sixth on this year’s AFL Coaches’ Association votes leaderboard, and the 27-year-old was sublime in Saturday’s loss to Hawthorn, posting 24 touches (16 contested), eight tackles and three goals.
Parker is wary of Fremantle’s star double act.
“Nat Fyfe is a champion of the competition and you want to match yourself up against the best,” Parker said.
“It’ll be our midfield against theirs and hopefully we can get on top of them. We want to minimise their impact. We’re going to need to get back on our bikes and get some confidence back into the team."