Who could forget Isaac Heeney's towering mark over Demon Jesse Hogan?
Who could forget Isaac Heeney's towering mark over Demon Jesse Hogan?

Heeney doing the work of three men

IMAGINE an NFL player lining up in defence, offence and on special teams.

That is what Sydney Swans rising superstar Isaac Heeney has been doing for the later part of this season.

Like the NFL most players in the AFL have one job to do and one area of the ground to work in but not Heeney.

He has regularly played in three this year, midfield, up forward and in defence.

His unique talent to make an impact anywhere at any time makes him one of the few potential match winners in Saturday's elimination final against cross-town rivals GWS Giants at the SCG.

The 22-year-old Novocastrian's versatility has played a pivotal role in Sydney's turn around in fortunes this year.

In the thrilling two-point win over Collingwood in round 20 Heeney was swung into the backline in the dying minutes and made a number of critical intercept possessions.

He did the same thing the following week in Sydney's nailbiting nine-point win over Melbourne at the MCG.

After kicking two goals early in the match he was switched to defence in the last 15 minutes and continued to repel the Demons forward thrusts.

He even produced a candidate for mark of the year when he leapt over Jesse Hogan. Not since Leo Barry's mark to win the 2005 grand final has a grab in defence been both spectacular and critical in a single moment.

Isaac Heeney cuts an imposing figure at the SCG. Picture: Getty Images
Isaac Heeney cuts an imposing figure at the SCG. Picture: Getty Images

While Heeney is clearly having fun playing so many varied roles it's come with a catch his study time has tripled with every coaching department at the Swans wanting a piece of his time.

"It's a strange one," Heeney said.

"I go past the offices of the line coaches and Horse and everyone says go do your homework. I walk past Steve Johnson (forwards coach), I walk past Dean Cox (run and midfield coach) and they say go do your homework. I go past Rhyce Shaw (backline coach) and he says the same, you're a defender this week. I need to keep track of what I'm doing."

The journey into the backline is the newest and toughest with Heeney developing a new-found appreciation for what defenders do and the stress they live under.

To be honest it's the most nervous I've been during a game," Heeney said.

"Usually the nerves disappear after you get started in the game but when you are the spare man in defence I get nervous. It's great and I'm really enjoying it. The time in defence is new but as long as I keep taking the marks and spoiling I'm doing my role."

 

Isaac Heeney will be hoping to inspire the Swans against GWS. Picture: AAP
Isaac Heeney will be hoping to inspire the Swans against GWS. Picture: AAP

Brisbane Lions triple premiership champion Alistair Lynch is a massive fan of Heeney's work and says the Swan is on the verge of becoming one of the biggest stars in the AFL.

"Isaac Heeney is very close to be a major star of the competition," Lynch said.

"To have a successful team you need a couple of superstars and some good players around them. Heeney can be one of the two superstars moving forward for the next decade. You need those pillars. Every time I see him I think he is going to be an exciting player for a long time in this competition."

Heeney believes the Swans have been helped by the week off and their preparation and a four quarter effort against GWS is the key to their success.

"I get confidence going into a match from the way we train," Heeney said.

"We will train hard in all the sessions we do this week in the lead up to the game. We will train at a high intensity and go into the game knowing we are on from the get go.

If you are playing a team like GWS if you don't play to your best all the way through you get beaten. We played three quarters of really good footy against Hawthorn and one bad and that was the difference."



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