Whether it’s from home or the pub, Sydney Swans co-captain Luke Parker has called on the faithful to show their passion when his side runs out at an empty Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

Parker and his teammates will play in front of empty stands for the first time in their careers when they open their 2020 campaign against the Adelaide Crows.

Shutting out fans from games and cutting the season to 17 rounds are the most significant steps the AFL has taken in its fight against the coronavirus threat, while the league is also considering whether to delay the start of the competition.

Parker and his team are ploughing on as though their season will begin against the Crows on Saturday – and the All Australian midfielder says the support of their fans will be crucial.

“We still need your support heavily throughout the season and going forward, and wherever you’re watching I hope you’re still going to be wearing the red and the white,” Parker told SwansTV.

“It’s obviously disappointing that there won’t be any fans going forward, but I’m sure we’ll be able to feel the love along the way.”

Parker is hoping to see the evolution of young Swans James Rowbottom and Oliver Florent continue in Saturday’s match against Adelaide.

Along with teammates like Callum Mills, Isaac Heeney, George Hewett, Will Hayward and Nick Blakey, the emerging midfielders are two of many Sydney youngsters setting out on highly promising careers.

Rising Sydney Swans midfielder James Rowbottom in action in Round 23, 2019.

“One exciting young player I work closely with is James Rowbottom,” Parker said.

“It’s his second year now, he’s a big-bodied mid, he’s playing a really mature style of football and he really wants to be a part of the bigger picture in the future. To see how he’s grown over the pre-season is great, and hopefully he can continue to take his game to another level. 

“Ollie Florent is another who we’ll rely heavily on in the midfield to take his game to another level if we want to be successful.”

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