There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence; selfishness and ego.
Having captained Vic Metro, had 29 scoring shots in seven NAB League games and looked comfortable when thrown into the midfield mix, Harry Sheezel has a licence to back his talent.
“I think internally I am confident, sometimes I might not show it but I do think I can be one of the best,” Sheezel said in May, ahead of a six-goal masterclass against Tassie.
But the highlight-grabbing, media-attracting gamestyle has not translated into arrogance, according to those around him.
As a leader he has relatable cheek that assists in culture-building; instructive communication that assists on game-day; defensive workrate to give his team the best chance offensively.
“One thing I admire about ‘Sheez’ is, despite all his success over the last year, his demeanour from when we walked into Dragons as fresh faces to now as a top draft prospect hasn’t changed at all,” said teammate Jakob Anderson.
“He’s one of the most humble guys I’ve ever met but he’s so driven as well.”
“Humble” is always the word used when teammates are asked to talk about Sheezel.
Former teammate Hugo Hall-Kahan was equally glowing in a recent Dragons Den podcast.
“Sheez is probably the best teammate to have – he’s so humble and it’s ridiculous how easy he is to talk to,” Hall-Kahan said.
“He’ll put you first every single time and he’s so humble so he’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with.”
On the field, Sheezel has hardly put a foot wrong.
He finds a way to take marks, body positioning and strength coming to the fore and works opponents over with his run and leading patterns.
At ground level, he has the uncanny ability to hit the contest with speed, gather the ball cleanly and find the goals.
“Sheezel’s strength is his ability to use small forward craft if he has a tall opponent on him and get to the fall of the ball and if the match up is right, his aerial presence can be as good as a third tall,” Vic Metro coach Jason Davenport said of Sheezel.
Matched up on now Essendon-listed Massimo D’Ambrosio who didn’t give him the space or physical advantage he’s accustomed to, Sheezel kicked two of his five goals for Vic Metro in an exhibition game by getting to the fall of the ball at full-pace and gathering and converting.
It was a fun challenge for Sheezel.
“It was kind of weird, I kicked five but I didn’t feel like I won the battle, I’d call it even,” Sheezel said.
“He dominated and held me up a few times but I ended up kicking goals so it was pretty even if not he won it.
“I had to play a different role to what I play on Dragons and play a traditional small forward rover. He played really well defensively on me and then he tore it up offensively.”
Davenport was more complimentary of his player given the Young Guns’ overall dominance and praised his captaincy on the day.
“Sheez’s professionalism, competitive nature and composure in those types of games is really important, Davenport said.
“We identified early on that, based on our personnel, it was good to have someone who would lead from the front through their actions and in particular have confidence and we saw that in his output.
“Others can feel very comfortable playing around Sheez that they will be supported with his character.”
In recent weeks, Sheezel has played moreso in the midfield than forward line, collecting 37 and 33 disposals against Northern Knights and Western Jets respectively, reading the ball off hands and hurting with his burst and ball-use.
Sheezel has waxed well with number one draft prospect Will Ashcroft through and learned plenty from the experience.
“He is the main midfielder and dictates where the taps go and he is so good at it, I just learn off him to see what he does because he finds so much of the ball,” Sheezel said.
“I think we work really well together, we give it to each other a lot, we play to each other’s strengths – he racks it up a bit more than me and I probably try and influence with my kicking and decision-making and composure.”
The weakest NAB League performance of the year came when he was under an illness-cloud against Dandenong.
The week before he struggled to have much influence in the AFL academy game as he felt some early effects of his oncoming sickness – but he owns his below-par performance.
“I remember we had a training session the day before the academy game and I was so sick, I was trying to hold it in but then adrenaline took over and I was right to play,”Sheezel recalled.
“It was no excuse, I didn’t play the way I wanted to, I should’ve still played well.
“The Dandenong game I shouldn’t have played, that was stupid - I doubt I was ever going to play well there but it was a good learning experience.”
Reflecting on his season so far, one thing he wants to improve is goal kicking.
Against GWS in round three he kicked four goals from eight shots, with coach Wayne Cripps – semi – jokingly saying at his halftime address that Sheezel could kick 15 he’s that hot.
It was a windy day and the delivery also hindered his impact, but he accepts responsibility for a lack of conversion.
Throughout juniors he was known for his accuracy – a reputation his dad, Dean, also had at AJAX Football Club – and although he has been reliable with his goalkicking with 17.12, he thinks it could go to another level.
Before training, Sheezel practices over and over his technique, looks to boost his confidence, attributing some early-season misses to his mentality.
“Sometimes there is self-doubt but I know what to do and every time I kick a goal I do the same thing but sometimes mentality can affect my technique so then I don’t do what I would usually do.”
There is no replica for in-game goal kicking, but the 18-year-old’s methodical approach and serious demeanour at training shows how much weight he places upon improvement.
“I used to have a routine with steps but I have kind of got rid of it just to kick when I feel ready and good naturally. I just back in my skills.
“I don’t need a routine, I used to do it just to feel right but now I just go off feel.”
Likewise, mid-week runs throughout the year gives him a point-of-difference.
After snappy Dragons sessions, he has done some intensity running to maximise output from training after having some disappointment with his effort in the first two games - highlighting his work ethic.
“Pre-training craft for some boys isn’t taken too seriously, but as soon as Sheez is on the track, he is in the zone where he wants to get better,” said fellow leader Jakob Anderson.
“He is obviously tracking really well but he is still asking questions, in reviews with coaches all the time and doesn’t refrain from asking other boys in the team how he can get better.
“It goes both ways as well – he built my confidence up heaps emphasising what I’ve done well.
“I admire his work ethic and professionalism off the field.”
Training with Vic Metro and the AFL academy has given him the opportunity to absorb a higher standard of training and pick the brains of fellow top prospects.
Getting the opportunity to train at StKilda – with Dragons teammate Cam McKenzie - and learning off Tim Membrey and doing some work with strength and conditioning staff was another highlight that whet the appetite for life at the highest level.
And when AFL clubs have come knocking, Sheezel sells his humility and confidence – a perfect pairing.
“I’ve had education around interviews with clubs,” he said.
“You’re selling yourself to a club, it’s a job interview, and you’ve got to sell yourself so they pick you over someone else. I think I do that well.”