Maitland-born Sydney Swans star Isaac Heeney is delighted at the prospect of spending more time in the Swans much-vaunted midfield.
Teammates Jordan Dawson, 19, and Colin O’Riordan, 21, are pretty happy as well about Heeney and fellow Swans young gun Callum Mills joining the midfield mix with established stars Josh Kennedy, Kieren Jack and Luke Parker.
In Maitland with Heeney for the Swans annual Community Camp visit to schools and communities in the Hunter, 2015 draftee Dawson and Irish international recruit O’Riordan are ready to step up into Heeney’s forward role and Mills’ spot in defence respectively.
And if the honour roll of recent Swans visitors to Maitland is any guide, the two youngsters have history on their side to break into the team following in the steps of rookies Heeney and last year’s surprise packet Tom Papley who both starred in their first year after visiting the city.
Heeney said he relished a mooted move into the midfield, where he played as a junior, but the most important thing was to play a role for the team.
“Growing up I’ve always been a midfielder. This pre-season I’ve trained in the guts and tried to push my case to get in there a bit more,” he said. “But honestly I will take any position if I can play in a side like that.
Heeney joked that he had been sticking close to new skipper and midfield maestro Josh Kennedy.
“The trouble is he can shove you off pretty easily,” he said.
He said he was glad he had another pre-season under his belt before facing Brownlow medalists Patrick Dangerfield from Geelong and Fremantle’s Nathan Fyfe in the midfield for extended periods.
“Nat Fyfe who is pushing 190cm and built like a brick you know what. I played a little bit on Patrick Dangerfield last season, he’s pretty quick and pretty strong so I didn’t last there too long,” he said.
Heeney, Dawson and O’Riordan are part of the next generation of leaders and part of the club’s famous Bloods culture.
“The Bloods culture is a key part of the club’s success,” Dawson said.
“You learn pretty quickly what the older boys are doing and what’s acceptable and the standards required.
“You hear about it (the Bloods culture) but you don’t realise how special it is until you become part of it.
“It’s that culture of everyone being united as one and it’s unbelievable to be part of it.”
O’Riordan said the club’s culture was a key factor in him settling into Australia from his home in Tipperary when he played Gaelic football.
“It was very different coming over, but I settled in quickly. You meet 47 new fellows but they are all on the same hymn sheet and they look out for you,” he said.
Most are too young to know about the World War I song It’s A Long Way To Tipperary but he did receive some ribbing.
“One of my coaches Johnny Blakey sings it to me every morning. It’s getting a bit old at this stage,” he laughed.
On the lighter side of life in a professional football team, Heeney and Dawson revealed they have some pre-game rituals.
“I always pull my left sock on first,” Dawson said.
“I wear the same type of jocks every week. The same type, not the same ones,” Heeney said.
“Our teammate Alir Alir likes to sing a bit. He bangs out some rap in the toilet before the game,” O’Riordan said.