Coach defends Heeney flip

April 6, 2020 4:35 pm in by
Sydney star Isaac Heeney in action in 2019. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

SYDNEY coach John Longmire has defended AFL star Isaac Heeney in response to criticism of his isolation behaviour, saying now is the time to take a breath and hold back on strong opinions.

Heeney has headed back to his family farm near Newcastle, NSW, during the league’s COVID-19 shutdown.

After footage subsequently emerged of Heeney wakeboarding and backflipping into a dam, former Port Adelaide midfielder Kane Cornes was forthright in his criticism of the young gun, saying he could not “get over the stupidity”.

Article continues after this ad

AFL legend Jason Dunstall and NRL great Mark Geyer were among those to come to Heeney’s defence, with Geyer saying “it’s a dark day in the world when we bag a bloke for having a bit of fun as a pandemic takes over the world … you (Cornes) are stupid.”

Longmire offered a more measured take on Monday, arguing everybody should focus on more important matters during the health crisis.

“We’ve just got to hold back a bit at this time with the really strong opinions,” Longmire said on SEN.

“I don’t know what you guys were doing in your early 20s, but I bet you it wasn’t self-isolation.

“We’ve just got to take a deep breath. I’m pretty confident Isaac knows where the line is, he grew up on that farm.”

Article continues after this ad

Heeney, who recovered from a broken thumb to play a leading role in the Swans’ season-opening upset win over Adelaide, has quickly become a fan favourite at the SCG.

The 23-year-old defended himself in an interview with the Nine Network.

“I’ve got enough experience and I know when I’m putting myself in danger and at that point in time I didn’t feel like I was,” he said.

“I was having some fun. Coming back here and the (best thing) for my mental health is to have a bit of fun with my family.”