Tom McCartin has no idea if he’ll end up becoming a key forward or backman for the rest of his AFL career. All the Sydney Swans youngster knows is that there’s plenty of opportunities to learn while being pinballed from one end of the field to the other.
Even with co-captain Dane Rampe set to return from his eye injury for Saturday’s clash with Port Adelaide, McCartin is again expecting to be deployed in defence this weekend. Coach John Longmire clearly likes the look of the 19-year-old in his back six, having previously only used him there out of necessity.
For McCartin, still only in his second year of AFL football, it looms as another chance to shamelessly plagiarise off the opponents he is assigned to. That’s the approach he has taken while being deployed in a position that, aside from a short stint as an under-16s player, is completely foreign to him.
“I was chatting to Horse [Longmire] the other day and he said it’s a great thing, especially for a forward, to play as a backman and learn other forwards’ patterns and vice versa,” McCartin said. “I guess you do get thrown in the deep end a little bit but that’s the quickest way to learn. I’m not sure what the long-term is, but I’m really enjoying it.”