Two brilliant performances to start 2022 has some asking whether this AFL season might be the year Swans gun Isaac Heeney explodes.
It had been building.
Isaac Heeney’s career had been on an upward trajectory since his debut as an 18-year-old in 2015. In the four seasons that followed, he played at least 20 games in each, and began spending more and more time in the midfield. In the mould of Dustin Martin (and now Christian Petracca), Heeney was set to become the AFL’s next-big-thing, and one of the highest commodities; a goal-kicking midfielder who dominates in the air. But in 2020 a horror ankle injury saw him miss most of the season. Last season, while he played 21 of the Swans’ 23 games, he did so under duress from other ailments too, and was confined mostly to the forward line, where he kicked 36 goals.
But after a huge pre-season in which he’s finally got his body right, Heeney may just be ready to explode. After just two rounds of the AFL season, the star Swan has already shortened from $34 into $18 in Palmerbet’s Brownlow Medal market. Now may just be the time to get on.
Heeney was a man on a mission on Friday night!
— Sydney Swans (@sydneyswans) March 26, 2022
A near impossible matchup
It’s likely that on Brownlow night, Isaac Heeney will have five votes after two rounds. Luke Parker likely pipped him in the Swans’ Round 1 win over GWS, but Heeney was clearly best afield (despite being overshadowed in) the Buddy show in Round 2. John Longmire and Chris Scott agreed, giving him the full complement of coaches votes.
Heeney’s move into the midfield was forecast in the pre-season, and his 25-disposal effort in Round 1 was his highest since 2019. Skipper Luke Parker, perhaps the player who would know him best, described prior to AFL Round 1 the ‘mismatch’ Heeney creates. “We know how dangerous he is up forward, and he can create that mismatch,” Parker told afl.com.au. “Coming into the midfield he has the big body to play on stronger guys, he’s one of the best runners at our club and has a great aerobic capacity, and he’s also powerful outside the contest. Also, you don’t get mids that can take a pack mark like him. I think he’s a hard match-up for another midfielder. Hopefully he’ll create a different look and match-up for us.”
if Isaac Heeney isn’t a genuine star already he’s well on his way. Finds goals at crucial times, plays everywhere, takes hangers. Proven match winner. #AFLSwansCats
— Brett Sprigg (@BrettSprigg) March 25, 2022
Most recent players with 40+ disposals & 8+ goals after the first two rounds of an @AFL season
2022 – ISAAC HEENEY
2017 – Lance Franklin
2016 – Jarrad Waite, Josh Kennedy WCE
2015 – Taylor Walker
2014 – Nick Riewoldt
2010 – Nick Riewoldt, Jonathan Brown
— Swamp (@sirswampthing) March 29, 2022
Pushing Swans to glory?
Heeney played in the 2016 AFL Grand Final in what was just his second season. But, in a game the Swans started as steady favourites, they would fall over at the final hurdle in the form of the Western Bulldogs. Since then, the Bloods have not reached the big dance. But with Heeney at the forefront, could they do so in 2022? Sydney jumped from 16th to 6th last season, and have already jumped even further in people’s estimations after just two rounds. Starting the season as $13 Premiership chances, the Swans have already shortened into $8 (third-favourites) with Palmerbet.
“No one’s got double figures. No one’s got near the quality either.”
Shrewd moves that mean the Swans can now match it with the AFL’s best sides.
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) March 29, 2022