AFTER fighting back from three knee reconstructions, Western Bulldogs forward Clay Smith says he's happy to keep signing one-year contract extensions if it keeps him playing for the premiers.
Smith has become an important cog in Luke Beveridge's side, with his goal sense and tackling pressure his standout attributes.
But the 23-year-old understands why the club is only offering year-to-year deals despite him not missing a match since returning from this third ACL tear mid-way through last season.
Injuries have limited the Gippsland Power product to just 51 games in six seasons at Whitten Oval after being taken with pick 17 in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft.
"I think at the moment (one-year deals will be offered) with my history with the three knees," Smith said on Wednesday.
"I'm probably not the most secure bloke on the list, but they've shown great faith in me.
"I don't want to go anywhere else, I love the club and they've been awesome to me throughout (my injuries.)
"Hopefully if I stay injury-free a little while longer and they can extend (my contract out further than a year.)"
It's going to be a memorable 12 months for Smith, with the premiership forward set to tie the knot later in the year.
While he said he said it was nice "to get on the end of a few" in his four-goal performance in the win over Richmond last week, Smith recieved a reality check when he spent the first three games of the season in the VFL – coach Luke Beveridge delivering the news his form wasn't as good as it had previously been.
"I didn't play 100 per cent to my best in the pre-season, but there was some good players that came back in," Smith said.
"I was just about bringing my strengths and staying in the contest more – they were things I had to go back and work on.
"It's just how this club is; if you're not up to your best, you're not playing your best, the people in form will get a chance.
"That's one of the best things about 'Bevo' is that he gives people chances."
(Being dropped) just makes you work harder and play well."
Luke Beveridge talks to his troops at training on Wednesday. Picture: Getty Images
In further contract news, 2016 second-round pick Patrick Lipinski will remain at Whitten Oval until at least the end of 2019, inking a one-year extension to his existing two-year draftee contract.
List manager Jason McCartney said the Northern Knights product has adapted well to the demands of an AFL footballer.
"Patty has shown some really encouraging signs at VFL level, and we think he has significant upside as a medium-sized forward," McCartney said.
"He's a smart user of the football, who's versatile enough to be used on a wing or through the midfield."