Luke Parker at centre of brutal new blow for Sydney Swans before start of AFL season

The Swans will be missing two of their leaders when the 2024 season begins.

Callum Mills and Luke Parker in action for the Sydney Swans.
The Swans won't have Callum Mills or Luke Parker for the start of the AFL season. Image: Getty

The Sydney Swans will be without both Callum Mills and Luke Parker for the start of the AFL season after the latter suffered a broken arm. The 31-year-old suffered the injury in the final quarter of the Swans' match simulation against the GWS Giants last Thursday and had surgery the following day.

Parker, who was an All-Australian in 2016, will meet specialists again this Friday. It is not yet known how much time the veteran leader will need to spend on the sidelines before returning to action.

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A premiership player for the Swans in 2012, Parker relinquished the co-captaincy ahead of this season. Currently sitting on 283 games, he is hoping to bring up the 300 milestone at some stage this year.

Parker's injury comes as another blow for the Swans, who will also be without captain Mills for the beginning of the season. Mills is not expected to return until mid-season after injuring his shoulder while wrestling a teammate in a Mad Monday incident last year.

The Swans open their AFL season against the Melbourne Demons next Thursday, and will be missing some key leaders. As well as injuries to Parker and Mills, they also won't have Buddy Franklin who retired from the AFL last season. However they did snare Taylor Adams and Brodie Grundy in the off-season - two veterans who will attempt to plug the leadership void.

Callum Mills confirmed as Sydney Swans' sole captain

Speaking earlier this month, Swans coach John Longmire said it was only a matter of time before Mills would one day become Sydney's sole skipper, despite the midfielder sparking questioning about his leadership future after his Mad Monday injury. Mills, Parker and Dane Rampe had been co-captains for the past two seasons, but the Swans announced recently that 26-year-old Mills would do the job on his own in 2024.

Rampe floated the possibility of he and Parker stepping down at the end of last season, with the decision to appoint Mills officially communicated to the playing group in early February. "I feel super privileged and honoured to be able to be sole captain of the footy club," Mills said. "It's something I hold really close to my heart."

Mills underwent surgery for a damaged rotator cuff in his left shoulder after injuring it while wrestling a teammate in post-season celebrations last year. The incident left Mills fearing the Swans could strip him of the co-captaincy as they plotted to improve on last season's eighth-placed finish.

Callum Mills and Luke Parker.
Callum Mills (L) and Luke Parker (centre) in action for Sydney against Geelong. (via Getty Images)

"It runs through your mind when you make mistakes," he admitted. "But I go back to the conversations I had with 'Horse' (Longmire), and the support I felt from the club, board down, was something that was quite reassuring. I think the fact is I'm human and I made a mistake but I'm not going to let it define me and be able to lead the group the best I can."

The Swans will rotate the captaincy until Mills returns - which is likely around the mid-point of the season. "I think everyone sort of expected at some point Callum was going to do the job (as sole captain)," Longmire said. "I think that was probably an unspoken given amongst the playing group."

"His ability to be able to keep thinking of the team and how can we keep improving, is the thing that stands out. In the end, that's the thing that still stands out. We all make mistakes, we all learn.

"The ability for Callum to be able to go on this journey, we think is going to be ultimately in his captaincy a real learning experience. We've got absolute confidence that he already has been and will continue to be a fantastic leader for this footy club."

with AAP

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