Q&A: Joel Cochran (Swans Academy)

SYDNEY Swans Academy tall Joel Cochran is one of New South Wales’ leading prospects in 2024 having progressed nicely as a bottom-ager. The 195cm defender is mobile, composed and aerially apt, drawing inspiration from senior Swans Nick Blakey and Tom McCartin.

Cochran enters his top-age campaign having been one of the Swans’ top performers at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, before earning selection in the Under 17 Futures showcase and being inducted into the 2024 National Academy.

The 17-year-old also showcased his athleticism at the recent Swans Academy preseason testing event in Sydney, producing the equal-second best running vertical jump (88cm) among his teammates. We chatted to him about the season ahead.

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Joel Cochran in NSW/ACT colours | Image Credit: AFL Photos

Q&A: Joel Cochran

Q: Joel, take us through your footballing journey to the Swans Academy?

A: I joined footy at around 12 years old. I had quite a heavy athletics background and had nothing to do in the winter. Auskick came to our school and I found it really interesting, so I asked my dad if we could enrol and started there. Then I joined the Academy about a year later and have been here ever since.

Q: Having played a few different roles, what do you see as your best position?

A: Probably centre half-back this year. A couple coaches have really helped me identify some of my strengths, like overhead marking and endurance, so hopefully I can utilise them and play a bit of half-back.

Q: What are some of the other strengths in your game?

A: Just overall cleanliness. Clean hands and skills, and just decision making at times – especially under pressure. 

Q: How does your athletics background help you out on the field?

A: It definitely helps. AFL is such a demanding game physically and doing different events growing up helps me use that to my advantage in the game.

Q: What are you looking to improve on at the moment?

A: Kicking, especially while running and sprinting, and just putting it where people want it out in front and stuff like that.

Q: What has the AFL Academy experience been like?

A: It’s been amazing so far. We had our camp at the end of last year, it’s just a great experience learning off other like-minded boys in our year and the amazing coaches.

Q: Which AFL club do you support?

A: Sydney Swans.

Q: Are there any players you model your game on?

A: I try to model my game off a bit of Nick Blakey and Tom McCartin, both Swans boys. I just love how aggressive Nick is off half-back using his legs and his amazing kicking ability, and then Tom being that lockdown sort of defender.

Q: Who has had the most individual influence on your career? 

A: Probably my dad. He’s always been by my side and telling me criticism when I need it. Also just doing what a dad does and being supportive.

Q: What are your goals for 2024? 

A: Hopefully to have a strong year with the Swans and break into the Allies squad. Just getting better each game, taking things out of each game – positives and negatives. To have a good fun along the year and just remember that it’s footy in the end.

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