Reid caps a comeback 1072 days in the making
TEAMMATES of Sam Reid had run to him like he was a debutant who’d just kicked his first goal.
But it was a moment of far greater significance when the popular team man threaded one through in the final term of the Giants’ win over Sydney at Spotless Stadium last week.
It was, in fact, the 26-year-old Sunshine Coast product’s 25th game – but first in 1072 days after two years in retirement.
Reid had endured an injury-prone AFL career that began at the Western Bulldogs in 2007 and continued at GWS – he became synonymous with strapped shoulders to try to prevent the dislocations that plagued him.
Though the hard-working midfielder still had a year to go on a contract, incoming Giants senior coach Leon Cameron had a suggestion in 2013.
He admitted Reid would have “limited opportunities” in the seniors, due to his “history” and coupled with the progress being made by the younger players.
“They offered me a position as a playing development coach in the NEAFL,” the former Caloundra junior recalled to Australian Regional Media.
“At the start I thought, ‘Nah, bugger this, I’m going to back myself in and finish out the playing contract.’
“But, having a chat to some people, including my partner and my old man, I ended up deciding to retire and take it on.
“I thought it was over.”
Reid thrived in the role in 2014 and 2015, while completing his level-two coaching course. But so did his own game, as, if a little ironically, he finally became injury-free without the stress of pushing his body to the limit at the elite level.
“The coaches used to joke, ‘Geez, you’d be playing this week if you were on the list,’” he recalled.
“I was just really enjoying it, without the pressure of trying to play in the AFL each week.
“I also have no doubt doing that coaching and the way I looked at the game now made me play a lot better.”
With that in mind, Cameron approached him again late last season with another proposal.
“He said there were three options and one of them was to get picked up on the rookie list,” Reid said.
While Reid had contemplated a move into senior coaching at country or suburban level, the fact his partner Elissa, who had stayed back in Melbourne during his four years in Sydney to complete her osteopath degree, was willing to relocate sealed the deal.
“She got some work up here so I thought, ‘Why not, I won’t get the chance again,’” Reid explained.
His career reignited as a rookie last November, and more mature in mind and body, Reid then completed his first ever full pre-season.
“All the shoulder stuff I’ve had .... I’m over that now,” he said.
“And having my partner at home - she’s looking after me with the osteo side of things.
“My body’s in pretty good nick.
“Knowing my body, and when to train and when not to train, it’s a lot different to being a young bloke who just wants to train and get through with niggles.”
Reid had been made emergency for five weeks before getting an emotion-charged senior recall as a small forward, capped by that goal ... after nerves had earlier got the better of him and he missed a couple of shots.
“Kicking a goal like that, the confidence going into next week is high knowing that I can still play at that level,” said Reid, who won’t have to wait another three years for his next senior game, with him in the team to play Essendon tomorrow.
A ROLE TO PLAY
IT’S already an imposing attack that the Giants have constructed, with talls Jeremy Cameron, Jon Patton and Rory Lobb, and creative opportunists Toby Greene and now Steve Johnson.
But comeback king Reid firmly believes there is a role for him to fill as the small forward providing defensive pressure – and the odd goal.
“I think there is (a position in the seniors) – they’ve been lacking a bit of forward pressure … and we’re trying to get the big blokes to do it as well,” he said.
“You look at Hawthorn and they get a lot of their goals from forward-half turnovers.”
But in true football fashion Reid will only be taking things one week at a time.
“It’s the old cliche – it’s week to week with me,” he said.
“But I play on the edge so I don’t mind being on my toes all the time – makes me play better.”