Sydney Swans ruckman Sam Naismith has a burning hunger to smash the 2020 pre-season after making a long-awaited comeback to full training.
The 27-year-old was a member of the main group at Lakeside Oval last Friday morning as the Swans returned for their first session of the new year.
Naismith hasn’t played a senior match since Sydney’s 2017 semi-final clash with Geelong and has managed only a handful of NEAFL games in that time, the result of an ACL rupture and a long list of complications.
But the 206-centimetre giant now has more than two months to fine-tune physically and mentally for the Swans’ season-opening match against the Adelaide Crows – and he’s ready to blitz the summer sweat.
“I’m looking forward to having a big pre-season,” Naismith told SwansTV.
“Obviously this is where you build your fitness base for the year ahead. Hopefully if I can nail the next few weeks, get into some game simulation and get the pre-season games under my belt, I can be ready for Round 1. I want to play Round 1 and not miss a game.
“I’m feeling strong, I’m feeling fit and I’m ready to go. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead and it’s really exciting.”
Naismith’s promising 28-game career was brought to a halt when he ruptured his ACL within just three weeks of Sydney’s opening match of the 2018 season.
He had been a regular fixture of Sydney’s senior side in 2016 and 2017, working in tandem in the ruck with Kurt Tippett and Callum Sinclair, but he had little more to cheer about in 2018 than signing a three-year contract extension.
Naismith is linked with the Swans until at least the end of season 2021 and is one of coach John Longmire’s many ruck options for this year, with Sinclair, Hayden McLean, Michael Knoll and Joel Amartey rounding out the stocks.
Naismith has a better understanding than most as to the testing grind of rehabilitation and is thrilled to have moved on from the injury list.
“It’s a lonely place being in rehab. There are some early mornings and every day you do a fair bit of work that no one sees,” Naismith said.
“But I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel, I’m out the other side and I’m just so excited to be out on the track training with the boys.”
If Naismith runs out for every game of the 2020 season, he will celebrate his 50th AFL match as Sydney meets Hawthorn at the SCG in Round 23.