With just 38 days ahead of Opening Night, the Sydney Swans travelled to Coffs Harbour this week for pre-season training. Isaac Heeney appeared in front of the media on day two and discussed the squad's growth going into the 2024 season. The star forward touched on his personal goals for the season and praised the growth of AFL in regional areas.
On pre-season training so far
“It’s been amazing. The good thing this year is that we’ve had a lot of the boys on the track. Last year we had a few injuries, and we didn’t do too much match sim. We’ve got the majority out there and feeling really fit so it’s an exciting time and we look forward to the season starting.”
On last year’s performance
“We had a good year, a positive year. We started slow and we bounced back later in the year. I guess the last game was the story of our season, a bit up and down and not able to finish off a game. Being able to nut into that this pre-season has been amazing.”
On Heeney’s personal goals for the season
“Playing the position that Horse needs me most for the team, kicking a bit more accurately would be nice and to push these young fellas. We’ve got a really strong, young group and we’ve recruited a few experienced players as well which has been really nice."
On the benefits of pre-season camp
“The number one thing is team bonding and spending a lot of time together. We’ve got a tight-knit group and the boys love getting away. Secondly, it’s putting smiles on kids’ faces that probably don’t get to see a lot of professional sporting teams. It’s amazing to get a good turn out and grow the game.”
On the focus heading into the 2024 season
“It’s ramping up quick, obviously starting two weeks earlier than we normally would. So, we’re starting match sim, we’re really nutting into some of the tweaks we’ve made to our game plan on the contest and work rate. We’ve got a young, driven group and the synergy is building.”
On returning to Coffs Harbour
“I love it personally and I’ve got family not far from here. It’s amazing to come up here and look at the growth of the game. I came up here in my second or third year and to compare it back then to now is amazing. I’m proud to be a New South Wales lad and watch the game grow in regions like that.”
On inspiring young kids
“Back when I started there wasn’t too much opportunity to come and train with professional athletes, let alone a program like the QBE Sydney Swans Academy. It’s amazing to see so many kids, male and female, jumping on board and seeing it grow throughout the whole of NSW puts a smile on my face.”
On Heeney’s position in the team
“I’ve done a little bit of training in the midfield throughout the pre-season and ultimately it comes down to personnel and where Horse needs me most. If we need people to kick goals hopefully, I can do the job, and if he needs grunt in the midfield I’ll jump in and do that as well. I believe a mix of both is where I play my best footy.”
On the first pre-season without Lance Franklin
“It’s been different. The focus has shifted off him and shared throughout the team. He’s such an amazing figure around the club that you’re in awe whenever you’re around him. We’ve missed that and we miss him being around, but we’re in a new chapter now.
On front line leadership
“We’ve got a really good squad. We have Tom Papley in there as well that leads the forward line and then you’ve got some of the bigger boys coming through who show a lot of leadership as well. If I can push the forward group and the team as well, it doesn’t matter where you play, I’d like to try and push as many boys to be the best they can.”
On the experienced new recruits
“They’ve been amazing. The experience they’ve bought and the tweaks from their old clubs to see what we can adapt is amazing as well. The fact they’ve spoken up in team meetings and to Horse has been incredible. The way they’ve driven this squad coming in as new players has been amazing.”
On Callum Mills
“He’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever met and one of the best leaders I’ve ever met. What he’s done at such a young age to come through, this is just a hurdle, and it will make him a better player. He’s dominating his rehab and he’ll come back better and stronger.”
The Sydney Swans will take on Melbourne on Opening Night, March 7. Kick off the season and secure your tickets HERE.