Jarman Impey feels the heat at Alberton

At ease: Jarman Impey at Power training at the beginning of February.

When Port Adelaide’s national recruiting manager read his name out as the Power’s first draft pick at the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Jarman Impey was thrilled.

For the 18-year-old Shepparton product, a life lived by the sea and spending all day at the club environment that is Port Adelaide is, it seems, all he wants and needs.

“When my name got read out by Port Adelaide I was pretty happy because I’d heard Adelaide was like a big country town, I guess I felt like it would be an easy place to settle in – I probably wouldn’t have gone too well in the big metro areas like in Melbourne,” Impey told portadelaidefc.com.au.

“I was living down in Henley for a bit and I got down the beach every now and then – that’s one of the great things about the town.

“There are nice beaches and cafes around the place. It’s been enjoyable so far and I’m looking forward to exploring a bit more of the city.”

Impey immediately comes across as a relaxed bloke – dry-witted and practically-minded.

He appreciates the opportunities given to him, he understands you get out what you put in.

You get what you deserve.

It’s a positive early sign, knowing the tough business of AFL football gives no guarantee of a successful career, or any career at all.

“I know how hard it’s going to be and I know there are no guarantees,” he says.

That matter-of-fact outlook stems from his days playing with the Murray Bushrangers in the TAC Cup – the league that’s a breeding ground for the vast majority of today’s AFL stars.

It was in TAC Cup football that he honed his skills and talents – a blistering pace that caught the eye of the Power’s recruiters in 2013.

Working with good people at his local club and in the Victoria Country under-18 representative side, Impey discovered the speed of the game only got faster the further he rose up the ranks.

But he’s loved every minute of the journey so far.

“It was very enjoyable at [the] Bushrangers and with Vic Country. I got to meet a lot of good people and learn many things that have helped me out,” said Impey.

“The speed of the game also increased at each next level; it was good for me to learn that because it’s going to happen in the SANFL and AFL [as well].

“Running is probably my strength, probably not long-distance but definitely over short distances I think I’m able to be quick and explosive.

“The long-distance running – that long aerobic stuff – is what I need to try and get better at to provide a bit of balance to my fitness.

“I have to keep on top of the speed and skills of AFL level and make sure I keep listening to the advice I get given by coaches and teammates.”

Jarman is a fit guy, his power-running a feature of his game. It’s thanks to his father who taught him to box as a means of fitness at a young age that Impey has learned the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, particularly one expected of an elite footballer.

Breaking through: Jarman Impey in action for the Murray Bushrangers last year.

But he is under no illusions the road ahead will be hard and long.

While he has been handy in short-burst running, he and the other first-year players in the side have been managed to ensure their wellbeing is maintained.

With the club’s heat training under Darren Burgess challenging even the fittest senior players, it’s no surprise the load management of the club’s teenage contingent is being carefully monitored.

While Impey admits he finds the heat training challenging, he can also feel and see the results Burgess’s program has started to produce – in himself and his teammates.

He’s fitter and improving every day. That’s all he and his coaches want. That’s what his teammates expect.

Continual improvement at Port Adelaide is non-negotiable – whether you be a 350-game veteran or a newbie with no AFL match time.

“Heat training is not something that suits me at all, I think I’d go alright at anything else but Burgo reckons heat training is the way to go!” Impey grins.

“It’s probably one of the hardest things for me, but it’s hard for everyone isn’t it?”

Ollie Wines, Port’s first-round draft pick from 2012, is a rare exception when it comes to first-year game time.

Few players play every game in their first season and although he managed to do so, Wines was also the most rotated player on the Power’s list last year.

The likes of Impey and his fellow draftees shouldn’t be viewed through the Wines lens. Just like Wines was in 2013, all of the 2014 newcomers have had their training load managed through the summer.

But they still need to meet the performance expectations of the team.

Impey meets his targets and manages his body in partnership with the Power’s fitness gurus by keeping a daily journal and having regular meetings with coaches and conditioning personnel alike.

“All us first years have found it tough going in pre-season, it was very hard over in Dubai too, but it’s all been good experience so far,” he says.

“The fitness guys have been monitoring us really well, we have to complete a diary each morning to log how we’re feeling and how our body is coping.

“It certainly takes a toll on you – waking up early and pushing through the soreness – and with all the hard work and heat training as well, but the fitness guys really keep on top of it for us and take good care of us.

“We get taken out of a couple of the drills, which is what happens to all first-year players every year and that helps to get us through.

“But I feel heaps fitter – I think I’ve improved my times in each three-kilometre time trial. The improvement is continuing and that’s all I ask of myself, just to keep improving.”

Port Adelaide is quickly becoming home for the Sheppartonian.

He knew fellow defender Tom Clurey upon arrival – both played together at the Bushrangers and will be reunited in defence at the Power.

They also billet together with one of the club’s host families.

You discover quickly in football that mates come easily, and tend to stick around.

“You meet and make a lot of mates pretty early. I did that with the Bushrangers and Vic Country,” says Impey.

“Settling in has been very good. I’m living with Tom Clurey and his host family – he’s from the Murray Bushrangers too so that has been a big help knowing him.

“Tom is from around Shepp [sic] way; we used to catch the bus to training together, so I spent a bit of time with him before he left to come here last season.

“So far I’ve been spending a bit of time in defence and he’s also back there and has been helping out a bit.

“It makes it a lot easier coming here, knowing someone already and everyone has been very welcoming which makes things easier.

“I’m very happy with Port Adelaide – they’re all a bunch of good blokes and I’ve loved every second of it so far, it’s been great.”

Impey will feel the heat this summer, and hopefully for many summers and footy seasons to come.

Whether its the heat of the sun bearing down on him as he runs laps of Alberton Oval in pre-season, or the heat of expectation and rigorous performance as he progresses throughout his career, Impey has the practical mindset and self-belief to hold him in good stead.

That quiet confidence and self-belief is something that was crucial to Port Adelaide’s resurrection last season and, as we will discover as we speak to all the new draftees in the coming weeks, traits shared by all…

portadelaidefc.com.au will follow Jarman Impey’s progress in its feature My First Year series throughout the 2014 season.

Jarman Impey on….

Fellow draftees he’d love to match-up on…
“Jack Billings is pretty good playing up forward and obviously I’m a backman so i reckon that would be a good match up one day.”

“Lewis Taylor who’s at the Brisbane Lions is also a sharp little player as well. I don’t know if he’ll end up playing midfield or in the forward line, but either of those two I reckon would be a good matchup and I’d look forward to playing on them.”

The Magpies…
“I’ve learned very quickly about the Magpies and all the grand finals the club has won. It’s obviously the oldest SANFL club and there’s a lot to look forward to with playing for the Magpies.”

On learning to box…
“At a young age Dad got me on the pads for the fitness side of things, Dad keeps himself pretty fit. Maybe after footy I’ll go and do a fitness course or some personal training, but that’s hopefully a long way off!”

On his Aboriginal heritage…
“I’m definitely looking forward to being involved in the Aboriginal programs and helping out, for sure.”

“I’d like to help out in the community, I didn’t know too much about my heritage when I came out here – a bit like Chad, I just kept to myself and did my own things, but I’ve learned a lot with Pauly Vandenbergh [the club’s Aboriginal programs manager] and that’s why excited about getting involved.”

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For: portadelaidefc.com.au