The disruption to the season caused by the Covid 19 pandemic and the forced isolation has been tough to handle for many players. But as Sam Skinner, who is no stranger to frustrating periods without playing or the loneliness of rehabbing an injury, tells the Roar Deal podcast, it didn’t put a dampener on his enthusiasm for the season ahead.
A couple of months off footy seems like weekend detention when you’ve done the serious time of ACL rehab.
Sam Skinner has endured three knee reconstructions. Coronavirus isolation was a breeze.
With the Lions’ involvement in the NEAFL canned for this season and no AFL ruling yet on whether they can play scratch matches against other clubs, it might be anxious times for players who have yet to solidify a senior berth.
That applies to Skinner and make no mistake, he desperately wants to make it in the AFL.
Skinner realises that the changed circumstances has raised the stakes for players on the outside looking in.
But he’s going to enjoy the challenge of trying to make it into the side and secure another deal with the Lions, not be intimidated by it.
“It does in a way, you have to be pushing your case all the time to get a new contract,’’ he said.
“But my perspective has changed a bit since having spent all those years in rehab, I’ve learnt that at the end of the day you can only control so much so I’m just trying to put my best foot forward.
“So I’m just trying to go out there, do my best, stay fit and also to have a bit of fun as well I think.’’
The 22-year-old has experienced the highs and lows of footy in his four years at the Lions, often within hours of each other.
Within 24 hours of being told he would be making his senior debut in Round 19, 2016 against Port Adelaide, a scan revealed he had ruptured his ACL for a second time.
He’d been selected, organised the tickets for the family and gotten though the final training session.
Before hitting the showers went looking for a bit of extra marking practice when the freak accident occurred.
He’d soared up onto a marking bag and landed awkwardly – having already popped his ACL in his teens he knew straight away he’d done it again.
It took another 12 months for him to make his debut, against West Coast in Perth in round 19, 2017.
A third reconstruction cost him another year and now, with the Lions suddenly a very hard to team to crack into, he’s facing a huge challenge.
But he’ll do it with same attitude that helped him cruise through the Covid 19 isolation.
“When you are in rehab and you’ve got nothing else to think about other than how bad the situation is at the moment you have to start finding new ways to change the way you perceive things,’’ he said.
“In a sense I’m lucky I have had to go through a bit of adversity because it helps when times are a bit tougher.’’