SAM SKINNER is no stranger to an AFL environment so settling in at Port Adelaide has probably come easier to him than some of the other new faces at Alberton. But there is one thing that has surprised him since his arrival in the off-season.
Skinner spent five injury-interrupted seasons at Brisbane and a year at South Adelaide before being picked up by Port Adelaide as a delisted free agent in November.
The 197cm big man has slowly been getting up to speed with the side’s game style and it is the intensity at training that has struck him most.
“I’ve just tried to come in and learn the game style and game plan from the boys,” Skinner explained on Adelaide radio station FIVEaa.
“There was a fair bit going on in the few weeks before Christmas but post-Christmas I feel like I’m starting to understand it all and starting to build some good relationships with the boys now.
“The boys here work really really hard. (Travis) Boaky and Ollie (Wines) especially and Robbie Gray they’re just always out working their butts off. It shows in the GPS stuff how hard they really do work. You see it out there and then you get off the track and realise they’re pretty solid workers.
“That funnels down for me coming in and seeing that, it’s just made me want to work harder as well.”
Skinner’s career has been hampered by three serious knee injuries, limiting him to three AFL games played as a forward.
But injury free and aged 24, he has settled into the backline and hopes that a new position will lead to better luck on the injury front.
“Obviously in the back half of last year I was playing in the backline at South Adelaide and I felt a bit more comfortable because I was drafted as a defender,” Skinner explained.
“It’s obviously a pretty tough spot to get into in the senior side but it’s a good challenge for me and I’m just enjoying getting used to playing that role again.
“I’m hoping I’ve used all my (bad) luck early. My five years with Brisbane – three of those were coming back from ACLs so I feel like I was working pretty hard for not a hell of a lot of reward so it’s nice of Port to identify that I’d been playing alright in the SANFL and then luckily enough they’ve given me that opportunity.
“Now it’s just up to me to work hard and try to crack into the side, which is going to be a little bit hard to do but I’m hoping that I get a little bit more good luck with the rest of my career from now on.”
Skinner is enjoying working with new backline coach Chad Cornes, admitting he is regularly in the 2004 Premiership player’s office asking questions and checking terminology.
With the side now completing a big training block as it ramps up preparation for its internal trial and pre-season games in the next fortnight, Skinner is enjoying more match play at training and seeing some impressive signs.
“I was really learning a lot off Charlie (Dixon) early on and then the last couple of weeks he’s been on the sidelines so I’m starting to learn a bit more from playing on quicker players like Georgiades and those sorts of guys so it’s been a really good experience for me,” he said.
“(Josh) Sinn’s got a really nice left boot and he’s hitting some good kicks under pressure and then I’ve been playing a bit on Jeremy Finlayson as well so we’ve been learning a bit together as we go and matching up on each other and that’s been good.”