ISAAC Heeney's attempts to explain to his friends why and how the Sydney Swans have priority access to him under the academy system are generally unsuccessful.

"I try," he said, "but that's where I end up speaking for an hour and don't get very far".

The questions – and subsequent explanations – became more confusing about mid-year, when rival clubs questioned the fairness of the northern academies.

Heeney's face quickly became associated to the debate about the academy process, which was subsequently reviewed and then left alone, at least for this year.

Most clubs think in an open NAB AFL Draft the rugged and determined midfielder would be a top-five pick, but under the academy bidding system he will cost the Swans their first selection, No.17, at next Monday's father-son and academy bidding meeting.

The fact he has only two interviews at this week's NAB AFL Draft Combine – with St Kilda and the Swans – suggests most clubs have already marked his name down in that position.

He was due for a third chat, with Carlton, but the Blues didn't bother. "They scratched me off the list," he said.

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A no-fuss and strong on-baller, Heeney took a similarly straightforward approach to the widespread attention, knowing he was happy to go anywhere to pursue a football career, even if it meant leaving the Swans, where he has been a member of the academy since he was 12.

As the AFL investigated changing the process, there remained the slightest possibility Heeney would not be an automatic selection for the Swans. Or, at least cost the club a higher draft price than it had previously anticipated.

"Straight away I had people come up to me and say hopefully it all wouldn't impact me too much, but it was weird," he said.

"I didn't really do much about it, to tell you the truth. I'd read it and every time have a laugh and wonder how someone like me, a nobody, has always got their name attached to it all.

"All the talk probably hit Mum the hardest, and added more uncertainty for her. That's when more questions came into it and it wasn't as clear for her. Dad and I were pretty relaxed."

From afar Heeney's fledging footy career has influenced his parents. Earlier this year, Rochelle and Adam joined an 'AusTag' team, a sport similar to touch rugby but where an opponent aims to pull the Velcro tag off the hip of the player with the ball.

Heeney's 19-year-old brother Beau, who returned to the family's home in Newcastle after working in the West Australian mines, has also joined the team.

"They've definitely got involved a bit more because of my sport," Heeney said. "They want to become fitter and more athletic and follow me as much as they can.

"Dad loves coming out and having a kick with me and he's not bad. He's a 'leaguey', he kicks like a rugby league player, but over the years he's gotten better and he's probably got a more accurate kick than me."

The Heeneys started in a summer competition, progressed to the winter team, and made the Grand Final, although Adam's season ended in injury – a snapped knee-cap cutting short his day. "It wasn't great," Heeney said.

Heeney himself has had some knee issues of late, dealing with a mild case of patella tendonitis, which ruled him out of testing at this week's combine.

That doesn't matter too much. Heeney's season, since moving into Sydney from Newcastle with the help of the Swans, has been as good as he could have hoped.

The 18-year-old won the Harrison Medal as the standout player in the division two championships, and showed his ability to combine the hard stuff with the flashy, enjoying going for his high marks and pushing forward.

On Monday he is all-but assured of joining the club he has known for the past six years, and even though he has had plenty of time to think about it, it all feels a little strange.

"I'll wait until the day and whatever happens happens, I'm ready for anything," he said. "It's surreal in a way. Although I've been at the club it'll still be an amazing feeling. It's crazy."

Twitter: @AFL_CalTwomey