HE'S EMERGED as the Swans' Mr Fix-it in their push for a top-four place in 2022, and at 30 years of age and now in his 13th season in the competition, the pinch-hitting ruck role is not one Sam Reid envisaged playing at the start of the year.
With Peter Ladhams brought in from Port Adelaide to beef up Sydney's ruck stocks, and No.4 draft pick Logan McDonald continuing to emerge up forward, Reid was earmarked for a switch to the backline in the pre-season. But so impressive has been his form, Reid has held off the challenges so far to provide a threatening foil to both Tom Hickey and Ladhams – depending on who has been fit or selected – in the ruck, as well as a dangerous presence up forward.
Since the round 11 win over Richmond, the 2012 premiership player hasn't been displaced from the Swans' line-up and proved to John Longmire how valuable he can be in the centre-square, with 25 hitouts in the win over the Western Bulldogs after Ladhams was injured.
"I spent a bit of pre-season training as a defender so this wasn't planned but it's just the way it's rolled out. It's been enjoyable. I've just tried to keep it simple and make a contest and I think I've been able to do that for most of the year," Reid said.
"I've just tried to keep my spot really, because it's a really hot competition for spots for key forwards this year. There's a lot of guys pushing from underneath. Logan McDonald had a really good game (in the VFL) last week. It's a good problem to have and I just need to keep performing."
The encouraging aspect of Reid's run in the Swans' team has been the way in which his body has withstood the physically taxing nature of his role in the ruck, considering he only managed 43 games over four seasons prior to 2022.
"It’s good. I've probably done more training this year then I have in my entire career and I'm in year 13, so I've been able to build some resilience in my body and I’m feeling good, touch wood," he said.
Over that time Reid has seen plenty of talent emerge at Sydney, but the hype that dynamic midfielder Chad Warner is generating just 31 games into his career may be equal to any other.
The 21-year-old has been thrust into the spotlight again this week after another sensational display in the stirring win over Fremantle but Reid feels it's justified.
"He's a pretty special talent. Just how explosive he is off the mark and strong and powerful. He wasn't even trying to evade blokes on the weekend, he just made them come at him and threw out a fend. He's still very young, he hasn't played much footy but it's exciting to have guys like that in the team," Reid said.
"He’s showing great signs early and he's showing real hunger to improve. He wants to get better and he's got really good role models in our midfield to look up to."
Among Warner's many contributions so far, was the perfect pass he gave to Lance Franklin for his 1000th goal in round two against Geelong.
Amid the impasse in contract negotiations between Franklin and the Swans, Reid said he hasn’t seen any change in Franklin since the story broke.
"He’s not private. He's pretty relaxed around the club. He's very approachable and he's very good whether it's a first-year player or a captain. He's one of the boys and gets along with everyone pretty well and we all hope he stays," he said.
It's still hard to fathom the Swans lining up against the modern-day great next season, but they will face a former club favourite on Saturday when Adelaide's Jordan Dawson takes on his old side for the first time since requesting a trade at the end of last year.
"Dawso's still a close mate of mine but come the weekend and for those two and a half hours he becomes an Adelaide player. I'm sure the boys will have some words for him and for those two and half hours we'll get after him and after the Crows," Reid said.