Sam Skinner poses during a Brisbane Lions AFL portrait shoot at the Gabba.
Sam Skinner poses during a Brisbane Lions AFL portrait shoot at the Gabba. Chris Hyde/AFL Media

Debut a long time coming for luckless Lion

LION Sam Skinner will be forgiven if he doesn't stick around after training at Perth's Domain Stadium on Saturday for some extras.

In fact, if he goes looking for more work he's likely to get a tug on the jumper from a coach or a senior player.

The powerful defender will make his AFL debut for Brisbane against West Coast on Sunday - a year after first being selected for senior duty.

Skinner's story is all about terrible luck and a terrific attitude.

He was set to make his debut against Port Adelaide in Round 18 last year. He'd received the congratulatory phone calls and texts, organised the family for the big moment and got through the final training session of the week.

Then he went looking for a bit of extra marking practice.

"I went and found some extra work on the bags and went up to mark the footy and landed awkwardly," he said.

"I knew I had done it straight away, your body tells you you've done it but my mind was telling me I was fine.

"But I woke up the next morning and it was badly swollen and pretty sore and the scans confirmed the worst.

"It was a complete turnaround. It was an emotional roller coaster."

And it was one he had ridden before. The first time he ruptured his ACL was midway through his under-18s year.

Brisbane needed key defenders and took a gamble, selecting him with pick 47 in the 2015 draft even though he had six months of rehabilitation work from his knee reconstruction still to complete.


Dayne Beams chas stepped down from the Lions' captaincy.
Lions captain Dayne Beams has been a great influence on Sam Skinner. DAN PELED

He recovered and took just six games in the NEAFL last year to earn a call-up.

When the marking accident popped his ACL again, he was off for another 12 months in the rehabilitation group, meaning 17 of his 20 months at the Lions have been spent in injury isolation.

The injury group is often described as the loneliest place at a footy club, but the 20-year-old said it could also be a place where you realised what team spirit meant.

He said the Beams brothers, Dayne and Claye, and Allen Christensen had been great support while he was injured.

"Rehab, you hear other players talk about it as the worst place you can be and it is a pretty dark place," he said. "But a lot of people have done a lot for me, I have been touched by a lot of players and coaches along the way."

Meanwhile, coach Chris Fagan has defended his decision to rest Eric Hipwood, Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage, saying freshening them up before the side played three of their final four games at home gave the club the best chance of avoiding the wooden spoon.

The Lions will play premiers Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast and North Melbourne at the Gabba.