“He had a clean-up of scar tissue in the knee, which went well,” Swans football manager Charlie Gardiner said. “Recoveries can be relatively quick. We’re hoping to see him back running soon but the return date is still unknown and won’t be until later in the season.”
Naismith, who underwent a knee reconstruction last March, has not played since the 2017 finals series. He is highly rated by the Swans but has played only 28 games since joining the club in the 2012 draft period due to numerous injuries.
I wouldn’t say I was disappointed in my first two years. I played a very different role to what I play now.
There is now more pressure on Sinclair, who will again have to shoulder the bulk of the ruck duties this year.
The Swans have a dearth of ruck options on their list. Back-up will come from youngster Darcy Cameron, who has played one game, and the uncapped Hayden McLean, who was signed as a rookie under the AFL’s new preseason supplementary list rules earlier this month.
Sinclair has put pen to paper on a two-year contract extension that will keep him at the Swans until the end of the 2021 season.
The former West Coast giant joined the Swans at the end of 2015 in a straight swap for Lewis Jetta but struggled in his first two years in the red and the white when used more as a forward due to Naismith and Kurt Tippett being ahead of him in the pecking order.
He came of age last year when given more responsibility in the ruck, finishing ninth in the club’s best and fairest award, and was one of the best in the opening-round loss.
“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed in my first two years. I played a very different role to what I play now,” Sinclair said.
“I had full faith in my ability to make Sydney a long-term career here. I’m really happy the club sees that as well.”
Sinclair said he had learned to balance the ruck and forward duties. A key aspect of Sinclair’s game is his marking, which improved considerably last year when he was ranked second at the club for contested grabs.
“Every year you want to be a better player than the one you were before. I had to identify some areas I wanted to be more consistent at,” Sinclair said.
“Being able to get around the ground and positioning yourself to take a few grabs was something I really wanted to work on. I’ve got some decent coaches in Dean Cox to help me out there.
“It helped with consistency in my role. You get more opportunities, and the more opportunities you get, you get a decent chance to clunk a few.”
Despite being in and out of the side in 2016-17, Sinclair, a member of the Eagles’ 2015 grand final team, said he never doubted his ability to play well at senior level.
“The two clubs I’ve been at have been quite consistent in giving me opportunities,” Sinclair said.
“I never had this belief that I don’t belong out there. I think I’ve just been a bit more consistent – consistency in a role – and as you get older you mature a bit more and get to know your game better.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald