INJURIES curtailed Sam Skinner’s opportunities with Brisbane, but Port Adelaide’s newest recruit is determined not to let them define his AFL career.
The 24-year-old was claimed by Port Adelaide on Thursday as a delisted free agent, having ended his time with the Lions at the conclusion of 2020 following five injury-interrupted seasons.
After being taken with pick 47 in the 2015 AFL National Draft despite coming off an ACL injury, Skinner suffered a further two ACL ruptures in the following two years, limiting him to just three AFL games.
But after packing up and shifting with his partner to South Australia to play in the SANFL with South Adelaide in 2021, the 198cm key position player impressed Port Adelaide’s recruiters enough to earn him a second chance.
“It’s funny actually because I was supposed to debut against Port Adelaide in 2016 and I did my knee at training a few days before the game,” Skinner told portadelaidefc.com.au. “I actually got announced to debut.
“The third reconstruction I did it a few weeks after finally making my debut for Brisbane (in 2017).
“That was nearly four years ago. I’ve had three seasons under my belt now and I'm feeling good.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give, it’s just being able to show it at AFL level. I just wanted someone to notice that I could still be up to the level, especially coming off those pretty long-term injuries.”
Skinner started 2021 playing as a forward with the Panthers, booting 16 goals in the first 14 games before shifting into the backline.
Grateful to South Adelaide for “giving me a crack”, Skinner is seen as a defender by Port Adelaide and prefers to play in the backline.
“I was drafted as a defender and was a defender for my first few years at Brisbane but then I sort of switched forward because it seemed like there might have been an opportunity there, which didn’t eventuate,” he explained.
“When I switched back into defence with South Adelaide, I just felt so much more comfortable, like I knew what I was doing without having to think about it too much.
“I started enjoying my footy even more.”
Currently working two jobs, including one as a teacher’s aid in a high school where he is helping year 11 and 12 students prepare for exams, Skinner is also studying a Bachelor of Education, which he intends to complete around his AFL commitments.
“I might tone that back a little bit because footy will be my priority but I’ll keep chipping away at it slowly,” he said.
“I’m keen to crack in and make footy my focus again and see where it goes.”
An avid musician who claims to “try to play guitar and sing a bit”, Skinner hopes to have more time for a couple of his favourite pastimes.
“(Music) and fishing are probably the two things I like to do outside of football and work,” he said.
“When I was up in Queensland, I was able to go out fishing off the Sunshine Coast and those areas which were really nice so hopefully I can get back into some fishing in Adelaide.”