He might be the biggest kid on the block, but Swans rookie Sam Naismith knows he has a long way to go before he can match it with the Swans other big men.
The 20-year-old ruckman, who arrived at the club via pick 65 in last year’s Rookie Draft, is the tallest player on the Swans list standing at 203 centimetres, but admits he still feels like a lightweight compared to team mates Shane Mumford, Mike Pyke and Kurt Tippett, especially during some of their ruck drills.
“It’s pretty crazy to be training alongside ‘Mummy’, ‘Pykey’ and ‘Tippo’, especially with ‘Taubs’ (Swans ruck coach Steven Taubert) ruling the roost over there,” he said.
“I’ve learnt to expect a lot of knocks and a lot of bruises, and in one of my first training sessions I copped one in the nose from Pykey and I felt that one.
“Also in (last week’s) practice match we were having a bit of a tussle, but then I copped a knee in the side and got a bit of a cork so that ruled me out for the rest of the training session.
“Being the tallest bloke there is just a bit of fun really because I’m not quite as big as them with muscles and stuff like that, but we’ll get there.”
Naismith has already had to make significant changes to earn his place on the Swans Rookie list.
The ruckman, who hails from Gunnedah, north-west of Sydney, had to shed more than ten kilograms to get in shape for professional football and also had to make the move to the city from his home town to pursue his dream.
“At the start of last year I was actually settling down to go to university up in Armadale and I was going to study a Bachelor of Sports Studies there, but then I got a phone call from Paul Roos and Chris Smith from the Swans Academy,” Naismith said.
“They called me up and asked me to come down to a training session.
“I didn’t know what to expect and I thought it might have been one of my mates teeing me up, but I went down there and had a training session and I loved it, and then a couple of weeks later they asked me to move down.
“After that I played a full season with North Shore and played a few reserves games with the Swans Reserves and had close ties with the Swans since then.”
Since joining the Swans senior squad, ruck coach Taubert has taken young Naismith under his wing, and now with just one pre-season under his belt, Naismith said his game has already dramatically changed thanks to the coaching assistance.
The young ruckman said Taubert has helped him develop a better understanding of the game, how to use his size, and how to interact with other players on field.
“It’s been good working with Taubs about the ‘soft touch’,” Naismith said.
“That’s what earns the midfielders trust, so I just need to work on that and use my body and use my advantages.”