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Bouncing Ben

Luke Holmesby  June 12, 2012 7:11 AM

Hot Pie Ben Sinclair gets the round 11 NAB AFL Rising Star nod

Ben Sinclair has won the round 11 AFL NAB Rising Star nomination

ONE COMMON factor to any great team is depth.

And while Collingwood has had more than its share of injuries as it looks to a third consecutive Grand Final, its next tier of players has more than stepped up to fill the breach for injured stars.

Ben Sinclair is the classic example of Collingwood's depth of talent.

Sinclair played just four games in his first two years on the Magpies' list but after early long-term injuries to Brent Macaffer and Andrew Krakouer he has stepped up to consolidate himself in the Collingwood forward line.

Sinclair has played all 11 matches so far this season and is this week's nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star award after his three-goal performance in the Magpies' Queen's Birthday win over Melbourne last Monday.

"We've got a fair few players who can play that role," Sinclair said.

"We've got a good depth at the club so I guess that's why we're playing good footy at the moment. Everyone who comes in is stepping up. Each week you have to play well to maintain your spot or someone else will come in."

Even with Macaffer and Krakouer recovering from knee injuries, the Magpies have no shortage of small-forward options and Sinclair said he has made the effort to learn the best habits of each of them.

"I think everyone you take bits and pieces from. Each individual has their own unique thing they do. This year I've looked at Alan Didak or Jarryd Blair and taken bits of their game like Dids' freakish skills and the way he moves around the ground and Blairy's work ethic at each contest," he said.

"This year I've been playing that half-forward role, providing pressure on the forward line. That's my main job and if I can kick a few goals on top of that that is a bonus.

"In the future I'd love to play more in the middle of the ground. I'll see if I can get up there in a year or so."

Sinclair's rise hasn't gone unnoticed at Collingwood, with coach Nathan Buckley praising him as one of the vital parts of the team.

"His contested footy, his pressure on the opposition and his ability to regularly get on the scoreboard have become really valuable and important to our flexibility," Buckley said after Sinclair's breakout game.

"Right now he's one of our first picked, certainly one of the first picked of our small forwards."

After he was chosen with the 62nd pick at the 2009 NAB AFL Draft, Sinclair battled with leg injuries in his first two years with the Magpies.

But after completing his first full AFL pre-season and playing continuous senior football, Sinclair says he is starting to feel that he belongs at the elite level.

"Last year I got a bit of a taste of it at the end of the year. This year I started off a bit shaky, trying to get used to the intensity every week," he said.

"At the moment I'm getting a bit more confidence each week and feeling like more a part of the team each week."

Luke Holmesby is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter - @AFL_Luke