Coming back out of Shel

September 22, 2017

Sam Sheldon will return to Kyabram's line-up on Sunday after missing the second semi-final with hamstring tightness.

History will not be repeating itself when it comes to Sam Sheldon this weekend.

The damaging midfielder and 2013 premiership player missed last year’s Kyabram flag after literally pushing his hamstring past breaking point in the second semi-final against Benalla.

When he again pulled up sore in the lead-up to the same fixture this season against Seymour, Sheldon showed that he had learned from the experiences of the past by withdrawing from the game.

‘‘It was a bit stressful, last year I had it for a few weeks and kept pushing through it, I didn’t want to let the boys down,’’ he said.

‘‘So my head was in the wrong spot, I thought team-wise that I needed to play and unfortunately it went on me, doing the tendon was a bit of a freak injury though and it was one of the most painful I’ve had.

‘‘This time I pulled up sore after the Thursday and had a chat to Paulo (coach Paul Newman) and we decided that we didn’t want to risk it.

‘‘It was a nervous day and got even harder with what happened to Kayno (Kayne Pettifer), but thankfully the boys got the job done and I’m ready to go.’’

The pain of missing a premiership did not last long for Sheldon, with the whole club rallying around him — a trait that extends to all members of the Bombers setup, especially in recent weeks.

‘‘Missing the flag was devastating, but the boys all got around me and I kept my chin up and realised it wasn’t about myself it was about the club,’’ he said.

‘‘Our group has gone through a lot, everyone loses people in their lives or has things going on. The club is great in a lot of ways, but really great in that sense.

‘‘With what’s happened to Kayne, you wouldn’t read about that, but it’s really galvanised us and made us stronger.’’

Sheldon, who played 43 games for the Brisbane Lions and is the son of 185-game Carlton and St Kilda star Ken, believed he had a head start on other draft hopefuls from a young age.

‘‘It was all good fun (playing AFL), it was a good time in my life, but it was a lot of hard work when you look back on it,’’ he said.

‘‘Dad has always been good for me, it was a massive advantage having him on my side. He always said that at the top level everyone has the same talent, it’s just a matter of who works harder.

‘‘He’s been in the game his whole life, and his Dad coached as well, so I might be a bit biased, but the way he sees the game is second to none.’’

With 2001 Echuca premiership coach Ken still helping out at the club and Paul Newman leading the way, Sheldon said the Bombers could not be in better hands.

‘‘We’re pretty lucky to have Paulo, he’s a superstar, and Dad around as well,’’ he said.

‘‘He’s unbelievable Paulo, I’ve played in a lot of footy sides at a lot of levels in my life, and he’s definitely up there with some of the greats of the game in terms of knowledge and ability.

‘‘Everyone respects him and really wants to play for him.’’

Sheldon is no stranger to dealing with injury after battling three separate serious concussions within 18 months (from 2014’s preliminary final to a practice match before last season), and will hit the ground running on Sunday, despite last playing under lights against Shepparton in the qualifying final.

‘‘We’re really excited, the boys are training well and trying to get ourselves ready to go,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re all really good mates playing together and hopefully come Sunday it all just clicks.’’

It is that sense of mateship Sheldon highlighted as being integral to Kyabram’s lengthy sustained success — which would amount to consecutive unbeaten premierships and 42 wins in a row with victory against the Bears at Deakin Reserve.

‘‘We talk about the streak, but it’s not something that worries the boys, we’re pretty mature blokes and we’ve all been there before,’’ he said.

‘‘I think that sustained success has been all about focusing on getting the job done every week.

‘‘The main thing is that we all play for each other and that has held us in good stead.’’

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