NSW/ACT Player of Week: Adam Schneider
By James Matthey
Adam Schneider has had to overcome no shortage of obstacles in his decorated AFL career to date, mostly physical, but it could all be worth it if he achieves the 200-game milestone in the final game of the season.
Born in Osborne and attending school in Wagga Wagga, Schneider was a prodigiously talented youngster destined for life at the highest level.
He was picked up by the Sydney Swans in the 2001 draft, and has gone on to carve out a memorable career for himself since making his debut in 2003 against Carlton.
The silky left-footer played a vital role in the Swans’ 2005 premiership campaign, going on to wear the red and white jersey 98 times before being traded to St Kilda at the end of the 2007 season.
The Riverina product had an envious beginning to his journey with the Saints, winning the 2008 NAB Cup with his new side, but fell short of adding anymore premiership triumphs to his resume after being part of the 2009 and 2010 grand final losing sides.
Since that time, injuries have curtailed Schneider’s career somewhat, managing only eight games in 2012 before calf and hamstring problems limited his involvement in the 2013 campaign to just a single appearance before last weekend.
With that solitary appearance coming all the way back in Round 2, and the Saints out of finals contention, it would have been easy for Schneider to give up hope completely about making a return to the field anytime soon.
However, the 29-year old has shown tremendous determination to force his way back into the senior side after some strong showings for Sandringham in the VFL in recent weeks, during which he built-up his match fitness and pushed his claims for selection.
“I had a 60-minute game in my first one, and then an 80-minute game, and felt extremely good in those two. And then I played a full game last week,” Schneider told afl.com.au.
“I had three games under my belt. I was sort of running out of games [to play] so I wanted to push my case forward and luckily enough Scotty gave me the chance.
“I’m just happy to play some footy again.”
Schneider wasted no time showing his St Kilda teammates and fans the kind of form he was capable of, being activated as the substitute in the second half of their clash with Hawthorn on Friday night.
His dominant display up forward was rewarded with three goals and 14 possessions in what was a promising comeback after four months on the sidelines.
His excellent performance was a considered a bonus, with Schneider saying that just being back on the field was a positive in itself.
“I was like a little kid before the game, I was pretty excited to be back out there,” Schneider said.
“It’s been a long road to recovery – round two to round 20 – so I was pretty excited and I didn’t know what to do with myself for the first half sitting on the bench.
“It was good to just get back out there and have a run.”
St Kilda coach, Scott Watters, said it was great to have someone of the forward flanker’s class back in the side.
“Adam’s 29… it feels like he’s been around a long time. He’s battled soft-tissue injuries for an 18-month period and worked really hard to get himself back out there,” Watters said.
“You see the class that he has when he plays – maturity, leadership, kicks the ball really well.
“He just needs to keep moving forward. Fit and hardened, and he’s still got to get there, Adam’s a really important player for us.”
With three rounds left to play this season, and Schneider sitting on 197 career games, it seems almost fate that he will play his 200th match in the Saint’s final game of the season, a just reward for a player that has lit up AFL arenas around the country for over a decade.