Sydney Swans star Isaac Heeney heads the leaderboard of a new award that recognises the best NSW-bred player in the AFL.

The Carey-Bunton Medal honours two of the state’s greatest ever players: Wayne Carey and Haydn Bunton.

Dual North Melbourne premiership player Carey grew up in Wagga Wagga and played 272 games for the Kangaroos and the Crows from 1989-2004, while triple Brownlow Medallist Bunton was raised in Albury and played 208 games across the VFL, WAFL and SANFL from 1931-1945.

The medal will be awarded to the NSW player who records the most votes in the AFL Coaches Association’s Champion Player of the Year Award.

Heeney, a QBE Sydney Swans Academy product who grew up in the Hunter Region, leads Gold Coast player Jarrod Witts (16) and Giant Harry Perryman (13).

The initiative has been launched by the NSW AFL History Society following the success of last year’s selection of the NSW Greatest Team of All Time.

Society president Ian Granland OAM said the award has been driven by Patron and former Sydney Swans chairman, Richard Colless AM.

“The inauguration of these awards will add to the rich tapestry of the history of football in NSW, that is this year, celebrating its 140th year,” Granland said.

“There are currently 49 players from NSW on the lists of the clubs in the AFL. The Giants have the greatest number of players with 12. Hawthorn is next with six, while the Swans have five.”

The AFLCA award was instituted in 2004 and the NSW AFL History Society intends to award the Carey-Bunton Medal retrospectively to all the winners 2004-2019 – which includes seven award wins by Sydney Swans players:

  • Kieren Jack (2012 and 2013)
  • Jarrad McVeigh (2011)
  • Brett Kirk (2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008)

In addition to the Carey-Bunton Medal, the NSW AFL History Society will name a NSW State of Origin Team of the Year.

The selection panel includes Wayne Carey, Mark McClure, Mike Sheahan and Gerard Healy, with Richard Colless the convenor and History Society vice-president Rod Gillett the non-voting secretary.

Votes after Round 4 are:

Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans) 19

Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast) 16 (8 votes R4)

Harry Perryman (GWS) 13

Isaac Smith (Hawthorn) 8

Dane Rampe (Sydney Swans) 6

Jacob Townsend (Essendon) 4

Luke Breust (Hawthorn) 3

Jacob Hopper (GWS) 2

Todd Marshall (Port Adelaide) 2