Isaac Heeney plays at AFL level like a young man born to do it.
the top 10
1. Isaac Heeney – Sydney (190 votes)
2. Angus Brayshaw – Melbourne (139)
3. Touk Miller – Gold Coast (113)
4. Jake Lever – Adelaide (46)
5. Cory Gregson – Geelong (41)
6. Jordan de Goey – Collingwood (37)
7. Kane Lambert – Richmond (36)
8. Jack Lonie – St Kilda (30)
9. Liam Duggan – West Coast (20)
9. Caleb Daniel – Western Bulldogs (20)
When the ball is in his area it seems to bounce Heeney’s way.
When it’s in the air he finds a way to manoeuvre his body into the best position and wrench it from the sky.
The eye-catching teenager looks a natural and has done from the start.
His first game for Sydney, against Essendon, returned 17 disposals, seven tackles, and a crucial late goal that helped the Swans to a famous victory in Round 1.
Heeney has often been described as a natural on a number of different sporting fields.
As a junior soccer player in his first season he kicked 68 goals from just 12 matches. In one game, he scored 16.
When he tried his hand at cricket he averaged more than 200 with the bat. As a kid playing rugby league the coaches saw enough to pick him in representative teams.
When Heeney was 15 he decided to “knuckle down” and focus on footy. The Swans, who had him in their academy, must be thrilled he did.
His performances this year have led him to be named the Best First Year Player Award, presented by Tissot.
Heeney received 190 votes from his fellow AFL players to win the award from Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw (139) and Touk Miller from Gold Coast (113).
Heeney said life in the Swans academy had helped prepare him for life in the AFL.
“It was unreal. I was picked up when I was 12 and it really taught me the values and gave me that experience to become an AFL player,” Heeney said.
“It did help with that transition from Under-18s into AFL.
“The six years I spent in the Academy was incredible.”
That’s not to say Heeney was relaxed heading to his first AFL game.
“I was very nervous, very nervous.
“The thing I remember most of that was that we came back from a pretty hefty deficit.
“I was lucky enough to kick a goal right at the end and all the boys coming together and the excitement shown there got me up for the rest of the season.
“It was amazing.
“All the boys got around me and have been really encouraging, even when I was injured, they made me feel involved.”
Heeney has managed 13 games, including his first final on Saturday against the Dockers, and kicked 15 goals.
It’s been almost a dream start for the youngster but it’s not as easy as it looks from the outside.
“It’s very tough. You’re constantly sore, you’re physically and mentally drained, but it’s all worth it.
“The two captains have been amazing. ‘Horse’ (Sydney coach John Longmire) has been really amazing as well, Buddy (Lance Franklin) has helped me up forward, he has really guided me through there.
“Luke Parker and Daniel Hannebery were two originally who were incredible. They really picked me up under their wing and showed me that hard inside and outside footy.”
Heeney has unfinished business this season as the Swans try to extend their season when they take on North Melbourne on Saturday night.
And he’s not the complete footballer, either, with another pre-season planned to add more weapons to an already dangerous game.
“You work on your craft every day. I just want to become an elite player in every field.
“I will looking at my fitness and working on my speed, my leap, keep my hands strong. Every aspect and just work hard.”
Nick Stevens (1998)
Adam Goodes (1999)
Paul Hasleby (2000)
Daniel Kerr (2001)
Chris Judd (2002)
Daniel Wells (2003)
Aaron Davey (2004)
Brett Deledio (2005)
Marc Murphy (2006)
Joel Selwood (2007)
Rhys Palmer (2008)
Daniel Rich (2009)
Michael Barlow (2010)
Dyson Heppell (2011)
Jeremy Cameron (2012)
Jaeger O’Meara (2013)
Marcus Bontempelli (2014)