Academies help realise AFL dreams

Super-talented Newcastle teenager Isaac Heeney says there's no doubt he would be playing Rugby League or Rugby Union if it wasn’t for the Swans Academy.

By Neil Cordy

Along with Abe Davis and Jack Hiscox, Heeney was one of three players from Sydney’s academy and two from the Giants (Jack Steele and Jeremy Finlayson) who officially became AFL players on Monday.

The result is huge endorsement for Aussie Rules in NSW and ACT and the ability of both academies to produce AFL talent.

“If I wasn’t there (at the academy) I most likely wouldn’t be playing AFL,” Heeney said.

“I would have been playing Rugby League or Union for sure. Newcastle is (rugby) league dominated.”

“The quality of the staff and the coaching has been unbelievable in the six years I’ve been here. Chris Smith, Michael O’Loughlin, Paul Roos (when he was here) and Tadhg Kennelly have honed in on every aspect of my game and have improved me massively.

Rival AFL clubs were prepared to commit high draft picks as part of the bidding system for father and son and academy players.

Melbourne offered pick two for Heeney, Fremantle pick 32 for Hiscox and Geelong pick 70 for Davis. North Melbourne offered pick 15 for Steele while Finlayson was not bid for.

“NSW is a hard market for us,” Swans Academy coach O’Loughlin said.

“We’re competing with a lot of different sports so we’re absolutely rapt with the way it’s turned out.”

To continue reading this article visit The Daily Telegraph website.

Image courtesy of Darrian Traynor/AFL Media

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