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Swans defend academy after talented trio signs on

Trade week begins Nat Edwards and Cal Twomey take a look at who went where at the father-son and academy recruits bidding meeting and the latest trade news
Number 51, Isaac Heeney poses for a portrait during day 3 of the 2014 NAB AFL Draft Combine at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on October 02, 2014. (Photo: Justine Walker/AFL Media)
Young Swan Isaac Heeney could be the best midfielder of this year's draft
THE SYDNEY Swans have again defended the use of their academy after the runners-up landed three prized recruits via Monday's bidding system.

The Swans secured highly-rated midfielder Isaac Heeney with pick 17, former 800m schoolboy track star Jack Hiscox with pick 36 and key position prospect Abaina Davis with the 73rd selection.

All three are NSW products and attracted interest from other clubs, with Melbourne, Fremantle and Geelong making bids on Heeney, Hiscox and Davis respectively, which the Swans were then able to match.

Clubs snare father-son and academy selections

The Academy systems in the northern states have come under fire in recent times, with many believing it gives those clubs an unfair advantage, led by Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.

Chris Smith, the operations manager of the Swans' Academy who has been with it since its inception in 2010, said Monday's result surpassed all expectations.

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"It's been a tremendous effort, not only for the academy, but more importantly for these boys who have had to overcome numerous challenges," Smith said.

"The fact that three other clubs also nominated these boys suggests they thoroughly deserve their spot.

"Our zones are mainly Sydney Metro and northern NSW.

"Traditionally, there would be one or two players from those areas that have made it onto senior lists.

"To think we've got three of our boys from one year coming onto a senior list is quite remarkable.

"And to be perfectly honest, I didn't see it getting this sort of result."

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Many judges believe Heeney would have rivalled Christian Petracca as the top-rated midfielder in this year's draft, with the Demons placing a bid for him with pick No. 2. However, the Swans immediately matched it.

Smith feels the evidence is clear that the Academy is doing a good job developing talent – and not just for the Swans' benefit.

"I noticed that 'Roosy' had Isaac as the second pick," Smith said of Melbourne coach and former Swans Academy head coach Paul Roos.

"Roosy knows Isaac as well as anyone and it probably doesn't surprise me it was Melbourne that put their hand up.

"We want to grow the talent pool and … other clubs to be interested in boys from our zone.

"It hasn't happened in the past, (but) now we've got everyone talking about our zone and the boys here.

"A number of clubs in the AFL are making inquiries and interviewing our boys and that's exactly what we want."

On Monday, Heeney reaffirmed his view he would most likely be playing rugby league if not for the opportunity presented to him by the academy.

Smith has little interest in most of the criticism from elsewhere.

"A lot of the commentary, I don't give it too much consideration, because you start to realise they don't understand the circumstances," Smith said.

"It's a bit like me commenting on something that's happening in Adelaide or WA – I'm not totally up to speed.

"But a lot of the commentary gives no regard to the environment that we're in.

"I don't take it too seriously to be honest.

"We want our boys to be given opportunities across Australia because traditionally they haven't.

"And rightly so, they probably weren't up to scratch. But if we can get them up to scratch and other clubs want them, so be it."