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My Road to Recovery: Sam Skinner

Road to Recovery: Sam Skinner Sam Skinner's AFL journey at the Brisbane Lions has been far from easy. Now, after his 3rd ACL surgery while at the Brisbane Lions Sam is back out on the track and ready to make his mark on the 2018 season.

In his 20 years Sam Skinner has suffered three brutal ACL injuries.

Despite each setback, he remains incredibly resilient and hopeful of a full recovery.

Skinner was drafted to the Lions from Gippsland Power with pick 47 in the 2015 Draft.

“I was pretty emotional as I did my ACL that year for the first time. And to get my name called out was a huge relief,” Skinner told

The NAB AFL Academy product was excited to come to Queensland but he spent the first six months in rehabilitation.

Skinner admits it was frustrating to not train with the group.

“That was pretty tough,” he said.

“I wanted to work as hard as I could and show the boys I really want to be here, and I really want to improve myself and hopefully give to the team as well. That was one of my goals coming up, to earn the respect of the boys.”

That he did, when he was able to join the group. He starred for the NEAFL team and eventually earned a call-up to make his Senior debut in Round 19, 2016, against Port Adelaide.

“I was doing extra work on the jumping bags and came down and my knee sort of clicked a bit and it felt pretty bad. I was stressing out a bit but then thought to myself it was fine and nothing major,” Skinner said.

“About 20 minutes after that myself and Archie Smith got told we were going to debut.”

Coach Justin Leppitsch made the announcement in front of the group, with teammates gathering around him to celebrate.

“That night it was pretty painful to sleep and I woke up and thought I better let Selwyn [the Lions’ Rehabilitation Coach] and the physios know that wasn’t right,” he said.

A scan revealed the worst outcome, he had ruptured his ACL again.

“That was pretty hard. I guess, going from getting messages from everyone about ‘good luck, good on you’ and that sort of thing. Then a day later getting the opposite messages saying ‘unlucky’ and that sort of thing,” Skinner said.

“It was pretty tough. It was one of the toughest weekends for me. It was a goal I’d set and something I really wanted to achieve and then it got taken away from me.

“It shapes people, these sorts of things.”

It was during this rehabilitation he picked up a guitar again, to distract himself from the frustration he was feeling.

πŸ™‹πŸΌ‍♂️ #Chet #Lover

A post shared by Sam Skinner (@samskinner21) on

“It’s a release. It’s just fun getting home after a hard day of rehab and playing.”

In his second rehabilitation, Skinner knew what he was in for and that he would need to be patient.

With the Lions medical staff, he kept working away until he could start running, then complete drills and eventually play games again.

“Playing NEAFL for the second time was really good. Last year we had an awesome group.”

Coincidentally it was Round 19, 2017, when Skinner was offered a second shot at achieving his dream of playing an AFL game.

“I was kicking the football and Fages comes up to me and says ‘you’re going to be playing in WA this week against West Coast’,” he said.

“It was an awesome feeling knowing that I’d get my chance again. It was very nerve-wracking at the same time.”

Skinner shared his debut with Jacob Allison that weekend.

“I was lucky enough to have my friends and family come over too.”

Although the Lions did not travel home with the win, Skinner had an unforgettable debut.

He kicked two goals and made some crunching tackles.

Skinner celebrates his first goal during his debut game in Round 19, 2017.

“I was a bit cooked in the second half,” he said.

“After my debut I played in the NEAFL the week after.”

In Round 21 of the NEAFL against GWS disaster again struck, with Skinner rupturing his ACL, this time on his right leg.

It felt different this time around.

“Usually when you do it you know and there’s a sick feeling in your stomach,” he said.

“When I did find out [it was an ACL again], It was pretty tough to hear.”

People at the Club supported him straight away.

Captain Dayne Beams, who Skinner had been in the rehab program with in 2016, was a big help.

“I remember we went fishing and we caught nothing, but it was still good to get out and chill out and have a chat and that sort of thing,” he said.

Skinner had his third ACL surgery six months ago and has now started running again and joining in on drills with the full squad.

“At the moment I’m going pretty well. The boys think I’m a bit of a shift work,” he said.

Earlier this year he took a few weeks off to travel in New Zealand as a mental refresher.

Then in March he visited world-renowned reconditioning expert Bill Knowles in Philadelphia.

“The America trip was really beneficial. I learnt a lot about being strong in athletic positions and running mechanics. I’m sure that’s going to help me a lot in the future,” Skinner said.

“It’s been a pretty busy couple of months, but I think it’s been really good for my mind and my body.

“Having that experience with Bill has given me a lot of confidence and feeling like I can do more than what I’m allowed to at the moment. Which I guess is a good thing.”

He is hopeful of returning to the field later this year.

“I don’t necessarily have a set date to play. It just depends on how I go in my training and that sort of thing but definitely a goal is to play a few games. And just to get through the year and have a good year.”

Skinner thanked the Lions fans for their support over a rollercoaster two years.

“I hope I can do them proud,” he said.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs