If you’re remotely interested in AFL, odds are you’ve heard of Isaac Heeney. Born and bred in the rugby league dominated city of Newcastle, Isaac made his debut with the Sydney Swans in 2015, and has since created a strong name for himself among AFL fans around Australia – taking out mark of the year in 2018.
We are so excited to have Isaac join the squad as our newest national brand ambassador here at SQDAthletica and we sat down with him to get the inside word on life as a professional footy player.
What drew you to AFL? How did you first get started in the sport?
As a little kid I loved all sports. Whatever I could jam pack into a weekend I would – soccer, cricket, rugby league, OzTag etc. Growing up in a rugby league dominated town in Newcastle, my family didn’t know much about AFL, but a family friend had a cousin that played for the Gold Coast (now Port Adelaide) so I decided to give AFL a go and have loved playing the sport ever since.
How often do you train and what does your training schedule look like?
Playing in the AFL is a full time gig. We are often at the club six days a week.
Our in-season program has two major sessions a week with two smaller skills sessions, two weights sessions plus yoga, recovery (massages, stretches, rollers etc.) and plenty of meetings.
Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
My only ritual is that I wear the same coloured jocks each game (blue).
How much of an impact does pre-season have on your game?
Pre-season is super important. Without a pre-season you simply can’t get your body into form and wouldn’t be able to run out a game to your full potential. It conditions you for the amount of running required at high speeds but also the bumps and bruises that you cop throughout each game.
How did you feel when you were drafted to the Swans?
Being drafted to the Swans was everything I ever wanted! It’s a club that is so well known for its amazing culture and success over such a long period of time. Coming from Newcastle, the swans are also the closest in location to allow my family and friends to visit and support in the red and white.
What is life like as a Swan? What is the culture like in the team?
I’ve always been at the Swans so I can’t compare elsewhere, but I believe we carry a strong Bloods culture; one that is both supportive and competitive. Life as a Swan is amazing!
Do you feel any pressure when you’re playing and, if so, what do you do to manage this pressure and stay calm?
Yes I feel pressure, but I also embrace it. It’s important to ensure that I perform my role each week for the team, and lead by example both on and off the field. Doing a full pre-season plus the ‘extras’ on a consistent basis keeps me calm and confident that I can fulfill my role!
Talk through your training – how full on is your week when you’re playing?
A week when we are playing usually starts with a Monday of recovery; a light kick and stretch, followed by yoga then a team meeting.
Tuesday can often be our first major session of the week which consists of structured drills into recovery before lunch. After lunch we have weights which goes for roughly an hour consisting of all major muscle groups. Then we finish the day with a meeting.
Wednesday is typically our day off so this is a day used for those extras whether that be skills, recovery, physio or reviewing our vision.
Thursday is the second major session of the week. It starts with a team training session with structured skills and more game based drills. We once again do recovery before lunch then a weights session – mainly upper body to make sure our legs are fresh for the weekend game. Then we finish the day with a team meeting.
Friday is a light day – just enough to activate the body making sure you are right to go for the next day.
Saturday = game day!
What’s your favourite team to watch in the AFL right now? Other than the Swans of course!
Geelong have been on fire at the moment. They’re putting on some big scores and proving that they are one of the teams to beat this year.
What is your favourite position to play on the field?
I think my favourite position on the field is forward, kicking goals. However, being around the football in the midfield is also a favourite of mine as you are always in the game.
Who do you look up to most as a player?
I look up to Buddy Franklin the most as a player. He is someone that can have a whole team trying to take him out of the game because of how damaging he can be, yet he often finds a way to have a huge impact on the game!
Sydney has only missed the finals once since 2003, what do you think makes the swans so consistent and competitive every year?
I believe the consistency of the Swans is due to the incredible culture the club has, which has been passed on without fault by the leaders of the club year on year.
What’s your outlet outside of AFL and how does this help you as a player?
I have a few outlets from football. My first are my puppies. I have two dogs, a Great Dane and a Mini Schnauzer. My other outlets are surfing and fishing. Even though the fishing hasn’t been great of late. Apparently there are no fish in the ocean haha.
Who is your pick for the Brownlow?
Lachie Neale – Brisbane Lions