16/04/2024

The Inner Sanctum has look at the decade long career of defender Sam Frost. (Photos: GWS Giants, Melbourne FC, Hawthorn FC; Design: Will Cuckson)

The Inner Sanctum explores the career of Hawthorn's Sam Frost, from a raw athletic prospect to one of the most consistent AFL defenders.

2022 is here, and very soon this year’s AFL Premiership season begins. As part of the build-up, The Inner Sanctum is taking a look at the players entering their 10th year in the league. The latest instalment looks at the career of Hawthorn’s Sam Frost.

The 2011 AFL Draft class is regarded as one of the strongest in recent memory. Stacked with talent, the draftees to come out of the draft a decade ago have gone on to enjoyable careers.

While many made an immediate impact in the AFL system, Hawthorn’s Sam Frost only began to hit his stride in recent seasons.

Growing up in Victoria, Frost would play his U18s football with the Sandringham Dragons while also be selected for the Vic Metro squad. Coming into the draft, Frost was predicted to be selected as a second-rounder. Being touted as a tall athletic prospect with a both a basketball and volleyball background, Frost was a seen as a raw prospect with plenty of upside.

With a hip injury putting him out of action for the AFL Draft Combine, clubs were hesitant to take him come draft night. Having been overlooked in both the National and Pre-Season Draft, he’d eventually land in the laps of the Giants, coming across via the Rookie Draft.

Sam Frost on GWS media day. (Photo: GWS Giants)

The last piece of GWS’ puzzle

Taken with pick number one in the Rookie Draft, Frost would be the final addition to the Giants ahead of their inaugural season, being one of 15 fresh faces that joined the club during the draft period.

Though still a raw prospect, Frost showed early signs of the athletic key position player he’d become, with then Greater Western Sydney list manager Steven Silvagni saying he was impressed with his mobility and size.

Having spent the majority of the 2012 season in the reserves with the Giants NEAFL squad, Frost eventually make his debut in Round 17 against the Fremantle Dockers, and would be a shining light in the side’s 90-point loss.

He featured in the next two games before being struck down by a hip injury once again, requiring surgery that ended his debut season short.

Despite limited playing time in his first season, the Giants saw enough in Frost, elevating him to the senior list at the end of the 2012 season. Though recovering from a hip injury and ready to break out in his second season, 2013 wouldn’t be any better for Frost who’d feature just twice, though his fortunes would turn around in 2014.

With a strong preseason under his belt and injuries to key defenders Phil Davis and Tim Mohr, Frost would get an opportunity to play regular senior football, playing the first eight games of the season, before once again finding himself in and out of the side.

Having struggled to assert himself in the Giants best 22 in his first three seasons at the club, Frost requested a trade back to his home state at the end of the 2014.

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A frosty stint at Demonland

Wanting a move back to Victoria, strugglers Melbourne Demons showed interest and recruited Frost for the 2015 season during the trade period in exchange for draft picks.

Having lost James Frawley to Hawthorn via free agency, Frost’s size and athleticism made him a viable replacement in the Dees back six.

Frost would immediately break in to the side’s best 22, playing the opening three games of the season before struck by injury again. Having injured his toe, he was initially ruled out for four-to six weeks, but ultimately wouldn’t play football for the Demons again in 2015.

He was back for the season opener of 2016 against the Giants, and was trialed as key forward. Struggling to impact the game in the forward end of the ground, Frost would be dropped for side’s Round 2 clash against the Bombers and omitted a further two times before finding form in the VFL and returned to the senior side late in the season.

He’d play six of the final seven games, finding success returning to defence.

Frost didn’t hit the ground running in his first two seasons with the club, plagued with injuries and poor form as a forward. (Photo: Melbourne Football Club)

Under new Demons coach Simon Goodwin, Frost found new life as a footballer in 2017. Though not coming into the senior side until Round 4 having injured his foot prior to the start of the season, Frost would begin to emerge as an important piece of the Demons back six, reverting back to defence.

Having shown glimpses of his athletic ability in his first five seasons in the AFL system, 2017 would be the year that Frost was starting to show it consistently, impressing with his contested and intercept marking, ability to impact contests and his run and dash for a player his size.

He had his career breakout game in the side’s Round 7 loss against the Hawks, finishing the game with 20 disposals, seven rebound 50s, and seven marks. Named in the AFL Media’s team of the week, Frost would go and have an impressive season, though a similar pattern emerged again.

After looking set to hit his stride and become a reliable and consistent performer, Frost faded away towards the tail end of the 2017 season and found himself finishing the year in the VFL.

It was speculated that he’d be shipped off to the Crows at the end of the year as trade bait for defender Jake Lever, but he opted to stay with the Demons, signing a two-year deal with the club.

With Lever eventually joining the Demons that offseason, he’d overtaken Frost in the pecking order, and even after Lever went down with a serious injury in Round 11, Frost still wouldn’t be recalled until late in the season.

Having been brought back into the side in Round 16, Frost would repay the faith, playing solid in defence and played out the rest of the season with the senior side, playing the entirety of the Demons 2018 finals campaign.

Having asserted himself in the Demons best 22 once again, it would be a much needed confidence booster for the defender coming into the 2019 season. Despite the Demons having a poor season, finishing in the bottom four when they were expected they’d make finals, Frost had an impressive season in his side’s down year.

For the first time in his career, Frost had managed to stay on the park and in the senior side for an entire season, featuring in every games for the Dees.

After seasons struggling to find his feet at the Demons, he’d become an important part to his side’s set up, though with his contract expiring, he’d become a restricted free agent that offseason and move to the Hawks.

Having come on leaps and bounds with the Demons in 2019, Frost would depart the club during the trade period. (Photo: AFL.com.au)

Third time’s a charm, Frost finds new life at Hawthorn

Having requested a move to the Hawks during the trade period, Frost got his wish and went on to have an underrated first season with the Hawks.

Needing an injection of pace in their defence, Frost would be an ideal fit for the Hawks, with coaches at his new club hopeful his daring style of play which his former coach Goodwin dubbed as ‘Frost ball,’ would be successful at the Hawks.

In the absence of James Sicily who missed the bulk of the 2020 season with injury, Frost would stand up admirably in his absence as a key defender, and while veterans Ben Stratton and James Frawley were struggling in a backline that was under constant threat, Frost was reliable.

As a lockdown defender he was solid one-on-one while able to de a damaging rebounding defender with his great run and carry ability.

Though Hawthorn were largely underwhelming in 2020, finishing 15th and a period of bottoming out and rebuilding on the horizon, Frost was a rare highlight in the Hawks down year.

Building off an impressive 2020 season, Frost would be just as impressive in 2021 being amongst the top performers for the Hawks. With Stratton and Frawley retiring and Sicily still out with injury, more responsibility was put on Frost to steady the ship in defence for the Hawks, and Frost would prove to be up for the task.

Lacking key defenders, Frost would play more of a lockdown than interceptor role in defence, tasked with taking on oppositions best forwards and would be rarely beaten throughout the season. Impressing with the ability to shut down opponents and impact a contest, Frost’s hasn’t been deterred to be a counterattacking weapon in his new role and still can be a damaging rebounding defender with his athleticism and pace.

Externally Frost is a player that goes under the radar, but internally he’s highly valued having been awarded as Hawthorn’s most consistent player last season.

Despite turning 29 this year, Frost looks to have just entered his peak, finally beginning to play career best football and live up to his early promise.

Although marred by injuries and often finding himself in reserves after poor patches of form, Frost looks to have finally gotten it all together.

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