Heenan finally answers City call

Sam Phillips

Heenan is the man behind the University of Queensland powerhouse that has made four grand finals and won three Hospital Cup’s in the nine years he has been coach.

He is one of Queensland rugby’s sharpest minds, having taken University to finals run after finals run with varying styles of play.

There was the forward first, dominant set piece style that guided the Red Heavies to success in the early part of the decade but the Uni side he has coached in 2017 is remarkably different.

The forward platform is still there but now, it is all about slick, flat attacking rugby which utilises a well oiled backline that has firepower to boot.

Heenan has been on top of the QRU’s list as a coaching candidate since the NRC’s inception but a young family and flourishing career away from rugby has limited his capacity to take on additional duties post club rugby season.

With his three young boys at the back end of “the really tough times”, Heenan is ready to take on a fresh challenge.

“It’s just one of those things where you poke around for a while, you look at other people doing it and think, you know, maybe I should have a crack,” he said.

“Work is obviously number one – career has got to come first and family but yeah – it’s something I have been thinking about and talking to people about for a few years.

“The opportunity came up this year and I was encouraged to have a go so here I am.”

While Heenan’s wife Danielle may not be a massive fan of the additional responsibilities, his boys Frank, 8, Vincent, 6, and Conal, 5, are famous for their runs up the sideline at St Lucia and they are excited to trade the maroon jersey for bright yellow.

“The kids love coming to footy with me so they’re at the age where they can come out and enjoy what dad is doing,” Heenan said.

“It just seemed like a good opportunity for me to expand and stretch myself.

“I have been doing Uni for nine years, before that I did Jeeps for six years and love doing it.

“But you do tend to get stale, you’re coaching the same players, doing the same things.

“It’s going to be exciting – it’s exciting for me to be involved in it, to be honest.”

As for what kind of game plan he will look to employ with Nick Frisby and Quade Cooper at his disposal, Heenan pointed to the free flowing, expansive style that has seen Uni lose just one game in the regular season.

“It’s a different set of players and you have to cut your cloth to a different extent,” he said.

“I’m sure there will be some similarities.

“We want to play a similar sort of style – we want to play fast, we want to play flat to the line, we want the guys to express their skills.

“We have picked a lot of guys that have good catching and passing skills so that lends itself to the kind of game we want to play.”