SYDNEY ruckman Sam Naismith will make his long-awaited return from a ruptured ACL when the Swans’ VFL team takes on Collingwood at the SCG on Saturday.
Naismith injured his right knee in round four last year, in his second senior game since 2017 following a horror run of injuries that started with a first ACL injury in the same knee.
He underwent his first knee reconstruction in the pre-season of 2018 and sat out the rest of that campaign, then missed the entire 2019 season with further complications.
Naismith’s second ACL tear was especially devastating for the big man as it occurred in the first game he had played since his sister Kristi died from pancreatic cancer.
The 28-year-old ruckman will play half of the VFL match as the next step in his recovery, on the back of six weeks of training.
That match will be part of an unusual order of events at the SCG on Saturday, when the VFL team plays a 'curtain closer' after the AFL team, with the VFL’s first bounce at 4:45pm.
"We'll be up in the stands after the game and watching. It'll be awesome to see Sam back out there," Jordan Dawson told reporters on Thursday.
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"He's had a tough couple of years, with the two knee reconstructions and family stuff.
"He's come back quicker than what we thought as well. It just shows how hard he works off the track and in the gym, in his rehab, to get back. It's very inspiring to see the way he's gone about it the last two years.”
Isaac Heeney will return to the AFL team to face the Magpies, after missing the nine-point loss to Melbourne with soreness in his troublesome right ankle that needed surgery last year.
The gun forward joined in training with the main group on Thursday after sitting out all of the running sessions earlier in the week.
Dawson will play his 50th game when he runs out against Collingwood, but the 24-year-old is yet to commit to the Swans beyond this year, as reported by AFL.com.au on Thursday.
"It has been a long time coming, six years. The first 10 [games] were pretty hard, but since then I feel like I've really found my feet,” Dawson said.
"For me it's just playing good footy and leaving [the contract] up to my manager and the club.
"I love it here and I love the boys, so it's just about continuing to try and play good footy and let that talk.”
Jordan De Goey looms as a crucial match-up for the Swans’ defence, especially after the Magpie’s forward bounced back into form with six goals against North Melbourne.
At 191cm and 85kg, Dawson seems an unlikely opponent for De Goey, and he refused to hint at who might line up next to the one-on-one specialist.
"We're just thinking as a team down there. There is seven of us so it's not going to be left up to one bloke to tackle him because he's obviously a gun player,” Dawson said.
“We're going to focus as a group and see how we can help each other when it comes in, not be so isolated down there.”