Sydney Swans youngster Tom McCartin has shown tantalising signs at both ends of the ground in his early days in red and white, presenting a key target and booting goals as a forward and blanketing talls when rotating through defence.
When prompted on Melbourne radio station SEN where he sees the 19-year-old locking down over the remainder of his career, coach John Longmire said he was a big fan of McCartin shifting between the roles.
“We love his work rate at either end of the ground. We’ve been able to play him at both ends of the ground and he’s been able to deliver,” Longmire said.
“He’s got a massive tank and he did really well in our two-kilometre time trial this week. At the moment we’re training him up as a forward but when we’ve had to throw him back he’s done that equally as well.
“I think at the moment he’ll start off as a forward, and we’ll train him during the pre-season in that role, but we’ve discussed the fact that we’ll throw him back when we need him down there during games.”
McCartin’s flexibility was on display in Sydney’s final-round clash with St Kilda at the SCG this year, with the Geelong Falcons product leading with gusto and slotting three goals before switching to defence in the last term.
Jarrad McVeigh had kicked a fairytale final-quarter goal and the footy gods had called for fellow retiring champion Kieren Jack to follow suit.
So after a passionate spiel from a fan behind the interchange bench, co-captain Josh Kennedy charged on to the ground and put the plan into action.
He called for Jack to spring forward, he marched McCartin back and what followed was one of the grandest moments in Swans history, with Jack’s goal following McVeigh’s six-pointer to the cheers of a raucous SCG crowd.
McCartin broke through for his senior debut in Round 8, 2018 and managed 34 games in his first two seasons as an AFL footballer.
Along with names like Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Nick Blakey and Will Hayward, he’s among a core group of promising young talent expected to drive the team long into the future.
McCartin was among Sydney’s second- to fifth-year players who returned for pre-season training at Moore Park’s Lakeside Oval on Monday.
The rising Swan said he was ready to blitz the pre-season sweat.
“I guess I’ve got a feel for the grind over the first couple of pre-seasons and I’m just trying to build a good base for the pre-season and go from there,” McCartin told SwansTV.
“Everyone’s done the work over the off-season and everyone’s looking good and we’re all very excited, so it’s a good feeling.”