Confident Swans to stay level-headed, says Parker
"I don't think the boys are getting too carried away" ... Luke Parker. Photo: Getty Images
SYDNEY don't like giving much away at the best of times - and with five wins from as many rounds, this really is the best of times at the SCG. Just don't expect the Swans to start talking themselves up any time soon.
Sooner or later they might have to, though, especially if the results continue to come as they have. Few blinked when they pummeled Greater Western Sydney in round one. Their victory against North Melbourne, when grossly undermanned, raised eyebrows. But last weekend's crushing defeat of pre-season flag favourites Hawthorn, on their private playground of Launceston, has made the whole competition take note.
Suddenly the Swans and their seemingly endless conga line of dynamic midfielders have admirers in all corners - not least the Hawks, who have answered criticism of their own performance by suggesting the Swans deserve to be rated as premiership contenders.
But while yesterday's training session at the SCG hummed with the kind of confidence reserved for winning teams in their pomp, one of their new generation of midfielders, 19-year-old Luke Parker, was at pains to play down what it means to be unbeaten going into May.
''There's a bit of confidence going around the club and we're happy with how we've been going but I don't think the boys are getting too carried away. We keeping level-headed,'' he said. ''We're happy with where we're sitting at the moment but I think the main thing is to keep it going and keep sticking to our roles and playing 'Bloods' footy … but there's no doubt the vibe is up around the club at the moment.''
Asked if his side was now a top-four contender, and thus in contention for a premiership, Parker was reluctant to embrace the expectation. ''I guess we don't look too far ahead. It's only the first five games we've won,'' he said.
''We've started off really well but we're just really looking forward to the next week against Adelaide and hopefully we can make it 6-0. As a team we set goals and standards that each player is expected to play by. That's what we've been doing each week and that's why we've been able to be successful so far.''
Tongues have wagged at how the Swans burned the Hawks during the second half last Sunday and Parker concedes that type of result can only provide more self-belief.
''That game was one where we really wanted to win,'' he said. ''Hawthorn are a benchmark of the competition and we wanted to show we could match it with the best teams, so that was a real confidence boost for the boys to match it with a team we believe is a top-four side.''
While famous names like Kirk, Crouch, Fosdike, Davis, Kennelly and Williams have passed on, they are finally being replaced by the likes of Kennedy, Hannebery, Bird, Jack, Smith, Jetta, Rohan and Parker, who claims the club's faith in youth that has enabled the transition.
''[It's] probably [because] the young guys have now been given the opportunity to go through the midfield,'' he said. ''It gives the older a blokes a bit of a chop-out.''
Parker said coach John Longmire told his midfield group over summer to step up from being also-rans if they wanted to compete with the league's elite. ''It was something we focused on during the pre-season. We wanted to get a big fitness base up to match with the best midfields in the competition,'' he said. Parker was pleased at his own form in the past three weeks, hauling in 30, 29 and 22 touches respectively.
The Swans are attracting no fear from this week's opponents ahead of Saturday night's clash at the SCG. The Crows have won their last three at the venue, leading veteran defender Graham Johncock to say his side has the edge over Sydney - not that Parker minds.
''We want to make it so that every team that comes up here thinks it's hard to beat the Swans at the SCG,'' Parker said.