Among the superstars that will run out in tonight’s clash between Hawthorn and Adelaide, Kyle Cheney won’t attract too much attention.
But as he stands next to the likes of Patrick Dangerfield and Tex Walker, opposed to former teammates Luke Hodge and Jarryd Roughead, Cheney is just as important to his team’s success.
The 25-year-old, who will play his 50th match against one of his former sides in a career that’s seen eight seasons and three clubs, has become a vital cog in the Crows backline this season after years of filling in key defensive posts at the Hawks.
Appearing on SEN’s Morning Glory on Thursday morning, the journeyman reflected on his time in the AFL.
“It hasn’t always been easy going but that’s what you get when you come into the AFL system. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs. I’ve had plenty of downs over the time but plenty of ups as well,” Cheney said.
Things are on the up for Cheney in 2015. Now at his third AFL club – having previously played with Melbourne in his first three years – the 187cm defender has played eight matches so far in his first season with the Crows, missing only two games to a hamstring injury.
— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) April 30, 2015
Since his debut, Cheney had been averaging less than seven games a season, but was highly regarded for his team-first attitude at Hawthorn. It didn’t take long to earn similar praise from first-year Adelaide coach Phil Walsh.
Cheney said regular League appearances have shown the move to West Lakes to be the correct one so far.
“The move was obviously late in trade week and I was over in America at the time, so it was a bit of a rushed decision but it’s been good and the guys over here are fantastic – and there are a good bunch of coaches.
“Opponents have just gotten taller and taller standing next to me. I don’t know whether I’m shrinking or what’s going on.” – Kyle Cheney
“It’s probably the most consistently I’ve played throughout my career at the start of this season so it’s been a good move so far.”
The unassuming defender often plays as an undersized key defender against much bigger opponents such as Geelong’s Tom Hawkins, due to his strength and competitiveness.
And while playing on the bigger bodies is a challenge, he’s happy to play his role if it’s at the elite level.
“I am pretty small but most weeks I get that match up with guys that are a little bit taller than me but I like to battle away and take the challenge as it comes. If I can get it to ground then I probably have the upper hand, but I’ve been caught out with some monsters over my time.
“Earlier on in my career I was probably that smaller defender but as time’s gone on they’ve just gotten taller and taller standing next to me. I don’t know whether I’m shrinking or what’s going on.
“I think one of my weapons is being able to go small and tall but it’s not often I get the opportunity to play on a medium sized player so that’d be ideal. I just take the opportunity as it comes.”
You can hear Cheney’s chat with The Morning Glory in full, below.