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Harry's season wrap - it’s been crazy

SwansTV: Harry Cunningham's season wrap Swans youngster Harry Cunningham speaks to SwansTV about a fantastic first year and hopes for an even better 2013
Harry Cunningham made his senior debut in round one

After featuring heavily in the Sydney Swans NAB Cup campaign, Harry Cunningham was thrust into the spotlight when he made his senior debut in round one against GWS.

While the match was Cunningham’s only senior game this season, the 18-year-old showed plenty of promise in the Swans reserves side for the remainder of the season, including an impressive performance in NEAFL Eastern Conference Grand Final.

Speaking to sydneyswans.com.au, Cunningham said he plans to be fitter, faster and stronger in 2013.

It was your first year at the Swans. What did you learn and how do you sum it all up?

It’s been crazy to be honest. About 12 months ago I was sitting my first HSC exam so it’s all come around pretty quickly and I’ve enjoyed it massively.
There has definitely been a lot to learn this year and (the Grand Final) was a great way to finish off the year.

You were thrust into the spotlight with the NAB Cup and then again in round one. What did you learn in that time?

I was pretty lucky to get a chance this year in the pre-season and I was lucky enough to make my debut in round one. I had to relish it once I got the opportunity because all young blokes have to take the opportunity and put your name up there and try and stay in there.

Unfortunately I couldn’t withstand it for the rest of the year, but that was because we had such a great side and hence winning the premiership. It’s pretty hard to crack into a side like that when they are playing like they did this year.
I’m pretty happy with how the year went and to get a first game and it pretty much all started with that pre-season.

You played a lot of games in the reserves this year, how did it feel to be a part of that group?

Everyone down in the reserves are really good people and we worked really hard to get to a top spot. I reckon that helps us in the twos, because with everyone working hard to get in the ones, it means it comes out in your game and we just kept the form up week-in, week-out. They are all a great bunch of blokes.

Down in Canberra where we played on the Sunday in the Grand Final there was a massive crowd there, even if it was 95 per cent Queanbeyan! It was a good experience for my first year in the NEAFL and I was pretty happy with the NEAFL conference this year and we did really well.

The team didn’t get the result on the day but you contributed a couple of really key goals. How was it when those long goals went through?

It wasn’t the right result for us but we worked pretty hard throughout the year and it just didn’t pay off in the last game.

I was happy to get on the board and do a few things for the team and I suppose lift the team a little bit. (Kicking) both of those goals was a pretty good feeling, especially late in the game. It’s always good to kick a goal in the Grand Final!

Who are some of the senior boys at the club that you’ve been learning off?

I’d say probably the likes of Nick Smith, Rhyce Shaw and Kieren Jack. The coaches think they can send me in their direction, to be a running back like Rhyce Shaw and the way he goes about it, not only on the field but off the field. He’s a really big clubman and he’s just a really great bloke. If you look up to guys like that, you’re going to go well and they can’t really lead you astray.

It wasn’t all rest for you on Grand Final day. What was it like to participate in the Grand Final sprint chasing Patty Dangerfield?

I ended up getting second so it’s not a bad effort but I’ve been copping stick all week though from the boys who have been saying ‘if you’re not first, you’re last’ and I didn’t hear the end of that. He’s a pretty quick runner old Patty but I was happy just to represent the club, especially with a crowd like that.

What are some of the areas that you’re going to try and work on over the pre-season?

I definitely need to work on the defensive side of my game. The coaches and I think I might have gone a bit astray from my defensive side, and I know my offensive side is good enough to match it with the best, so it is just the defensive side I have to work on. There are definitely a few key areas I can work on there and also I’d like to improve my base fitness, speed and endurance and also strength, so I have a fair bit to work on.

What are your plans for the off-season?

I’ll go away overseas with a few mates from home and I’ll really enjoy that because I haven’t been out of the country yet, so I’ll go there for a week or two and then I’ll spend the time in Wagga just working hard and getting ready for the pre-season.

I also don’t mind a punt so I love the Spring Carnival so I might be there every now and then.