Siggins soaring in the TSL

Sam Siggins with the Alastair Lynch Medal. Picture tasmanianstateleague.com.au

Sam Siggins’ journey to the top of the TSL has been a tough one, with the former Adelaide Crow dealing with challenges on and off the field.

But the Lauderdale Bomber has shown courage in the face of adversity and adapted to any situation that comes his way.

When your number one ruckman goes down, you don’t often turn to one of your star onballers to replace him.

But Sam Siggins isn’t an ordinary player, at 195cm’s he seems like a more natural ruckman than a midfielder and does pinch hit when required.

But his athleticism and versatility mean he can play anywhere on the ground, as a key back, tall forward or even on the ball.

He was experiencing a strong and consistent 2020 campaign purely as a midfielder, but when the Bombers’ ruckman Haydn Smith got injured, Siggins seized the opportunity with both hands.

“I really enjoyed going into the ruck because it just gives me an opportunity to have first crack at it,” Siggins told The Inner Sanctum.

“You can control the ball whether you’re winning the taps, or if you’re not winning them, when the ball hits the ground.

“I feel like that’s a strength of mine, I try to make as much of an impact as I can in there.

“I’m not your traditional ruckman so to speak, I try to play like a midfielder. Yes I’d love to win the taps and most of the time I probably don’t win them, but I just try to have my second efforts when the ball hits the ground or grab it out of the ruck if I can.”

This mindset was on full display when he put on a clinic against Kingborough in the final game of the regular season, boasting a stat line of 27 disposals, 13 clearances and 20 hit outs.

This performance was ultimately enough to secure him the Alastair Lynch Medal, the TSL’s Best and Fairest and highest honour.

Despite not polling a vote until Round 7 (halfway through the 13-round season), Siggins came home like a house on fire with four best on ground performances.

He said winning the award meant a lot, though it felt strange given the shortened season.

“I was very proud of winning the medal, but when I won it there was obviously a weird feeling after only playing 12 games,” he said.

“It was a strange one because you have to be put an asterisk next to it because it’s not a full season, but I’m still proud to have done it.”

Of more value to him was the opportunity to play football at all during such a tough and challenging year.

“To be quite honest it was a pretty tough year for me both on and off the field.”

“To have footy available for us in Tasmania was unbelievable. Obviously some other states didn’t get the play footy, so it was great for us to be able to play, especially for me. I was extremely grateful to have footy and to have an escape while going through some tough times.”

(Sam Siggins during his time with the Adelaide Crows. Picture: afc.com.au)

Siggins is open about his struggles with mental health.

He spent three years on Adelaide’s list, before ultimately deciding to step away from the club to return to his home state.

During his time at the Crows’, he had to deal with a training accident that ended teammate Brent Reilly’s career and the death of his coach Phil Walsh.

Siggins said it was hard to give up on his childhood dream, but it was the right choice after long consideration.

“I guess looking back on those times it is obviously really tough,” he said.

“Ultimately for me growing up all I wanted to do was play AFL and for me to be telling an AFL club that I wanted to move home was a massive decision, it was something I didn’t take lightly and it took me a long time to think about.

“I still feel like it was the right decision, I guess I don’t where I’d be if I stayed.”

He admitted he still thinks about possibly being in the AFL, but said he’s still proud of the decision he made.

“You do go ‘aw could I have got through it’, but I’m proud that I made that decision. Yes, I do have those little itches of ‘oh, I wish I was playing AFL’ or ‘I’d love to go back and have a crack at it again’,” he said.

“Obviously it’s not easy to get back into the system, but yeah sometimes it does hit you a little bit of what could have been. But I made that decision and I’m proud of it.”

Siggins is currently in a good place and entering an exciting period of his life.

“I’ve had those struggles with mental health over the last six to eight years, but I feel like mentally I’m in a really good place,” he said.

“We’re expecting a baby in May which is really exciting. I feel like with where I’m at in life, I’m in a good place and really excited for what’s to come in the future.

“At the end of the day what I’ve realised is footy isn’t everything, family and friends are so important to me. Having my first child this year is something I’m putting my sole focus on and I’m excited to be bringing a baby into the world.”

He also recently launched “Sippa Life”, originally started as an Instagram page to promote local Tasmanian coffee shops and wineries during lockdown, it has grown into an online store.

“The motivation behind it is to support the Tasmanian produce and to continue to get the Tasmanian name out there,” he said.

“My wife and I have been overwhelmed with the support from people in Tasmania and even interstate.”

(Sam Siggins in action for Lauderdale. Picture: Solstice Digital)

Looking ahead to the 2021 TSL season, Siggins is thrilled for the whole competition at the prospect of playing a full season.

There’s a positive vibe around Lauderdale particularly, with long-time assistant Clint Brown taking over as head coach and exciting small forward Joseph Salmon crossing over from the WAFL.

But the largest boost came when premiership Cat and former Lion, Allen Christensen, joined the club as a playing assistant coach, the biggest TSL signing in years.

“Allen’s been a massive help for me even in the short period of this month. He motivates me to get better and he’s driven me to get an extra step,” Siggins said.

“I’m excited for him to come onboard on the field, but also as a coach. He’s been massive for the playing group and our younger guys with all his experience from the AFL.”

At 26 years old, Siggins has one clear goal remaining in his footy career.

“The main goal for me as an individual is to get Lauderdale its first Premiership in the state league,” he said.

Lauderdale has certainly been close in recent years, losing three Grand Finals in a row before bowing out in the semi-finals last year.

While Siggins said those defeats were tough to deal with after coming so close, the people and community around the club drive him and the team to go one better.

“I guess we’ll hopefully take those couple of extra steps, that’s what our sole motivation is. There’s been a lot of people involved the club who are still there or not there who I certainly feel like deserve to see Lauderdale win a Premiership,” he said.

About Hamish Spence 52 Articles
Hamish writes about Aussie Rules, cricket, basketball and all things Tasmanian sport for The Inner Sanctum. His experience includes working for organisations like 10 News First, AFL Tasmania, The Mercury, the TSL, the Hobart Hurricanes and Draft Central. He recently finished a media degree at The University of Tasmania.

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