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Swans reap early dividends from Rising Star nominee Heeney

Travis King  April 20, 2015 7:45 PM

Heeney looks at home as a Swan Isaac Heeney kicks four goals in just his third appearance for the Swans
AFL 2015 Rd 03 - Sydney v GWS Giants

Young Swan Isaac Heeney has immediately found his feet at AFL level

EARLY favourite Isaac Heeney has officially entered the race to win this year’s NAB AFL Rising Star Award, with the Sydney Swans youngster nominated for his standout round-three performance.

In the heat of a derby against crosstown rivals Greater Western Sydney, Heeney booted four goals, helped set up three more and used his 10 disposals at perfect efficiency in the Swans’ 21-point win.

Check out all of 2015's nominees at the NAB AFL Rising Star hub

It was an assured display from an 18-year-old whose maturity, hardness and readiness for AFL football had experts tipping him to be the steal of last year's draft.

After every game, those predictions appear increasingly accurate.

In three matches, Heeney is averaging nearly 15 disposals and has booted five goals – including a match-sealing snap on his non-preferred left boot on debut against Essendon in round one.

Speaking to AFL.com.au, the young Swan said the early stages of his career have been "a dream come true".

"I would never have expected this sort of start. I was stoked (to be nominated for the Rising Star),” he said.

"I wasn't expecting it all and didn't think much about it. I'm just trying to get myself right after hitting that (goal) post on the weekend."

Heeney pulled up sore after he cannoned into the goalpost under pressure from Tomas Bugg in the final quarter.

He kicked the goal – his fourth – but crumpled on the ground in pain and was substituted out of the game soon after.

"It looked a little bit worse than it actually was. I was in a bit of pain, but I just woke up with some sore ribs and a corked glute," Heeney said.

"I'm feeling pretty good now, there's just a little bit of pain which isn't too bad.

"It's nothing serious, I just need to get that right."

Swans coach John Longmire lauded Heeney after the win over GWS, but also cautioned the youngster about the peaks and troughs of life at the elite level.

Despite his inexperience, it's a warning Heeney has heard loud and clear.

After all, the first-year player has already copped more scrutiny than most players do for their entire careers.

Last year, the Newcastle product unwittingly becoming the face of the raging debate over the northern clubs' academies, when many recruiters rated him a top-three draft talent.

But the Swans had priority access to Heeney through their academy and swooped with their first pick, No.18 overall, amid much controversy.

"I didn't really take much notice of those comments about the academy and about myself," said Heeney, who started with the Swans academy as a 12-year-old. 

"If it wasn't for the academy I wouldn't be playing AFL, let alone be with the Swans."

Heeney is the Swans' fourth Rising Star nominee since 2013 – following Tom Mitchell, Harry Cunningham and Jake Lloyd – and could become the club's third winner of the award after Dan Hannebery ('10) and Adam Goodes ('99).

Isaac Heeney's junior club: Cardiff Australian Football Club.