Main content

Q&A with Ben Sinclair

Sinclair's pace Ben Sinclair kicks a goal after a burst of speed
He's had a fine start to his third year at Collingwood, and was recognised for his improvement with a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination after kicking three goals in the Queen's Birthday win over Melbourne. But 20-year-old Ben Sinclair is taking it all in his stride.

Speaking from his hotel room in Port Douglas, Sinclair told about the biggest influences on his young career as well as addressing his hopes for the remainder of the season.

Luke Mason: You continually belie your frame with your fierce attack on the ball. What’s your attitude towards that side of you game?
Ben Sinclair: It’s just the way I’ve always played footy. I think dad was pretty hard at it but I just guess I see the ball and try and win it. I don’t really have any philosophy on it.

LM: I believe your dad played footy for Melbourne. What was he like as a footballer and what were the things he imparted on you?
BS: He played a few games for Melbourne. I think he was quite different to me in that he used to play in the middle and he wasn’t very fast. He was pretty sluggish, he told me. He could run all day, which I can’t, I think we’re pretty different in that aspect but he’s been very helpful for me. Every week he gives me pointers and a lot of encouragement so he’s been very helpful.

LM: You are also related to ex-Geelong midfielder Will Slade, I hear…
BS: Yep, he’s my half brother. Since ever I can remember he’s always been around. We’re very close. He gave me a lot of help during my juniors and still gives me plenty of help today. We go down to the park and kick the footy around and all that, so he’s been very helpful.

LM: Did you model yourself on any players in particular when you were younger?
BS: I don’t know if I modelled myself on any particular player, but barracking for Melbourne I used to idolise Shane Woewodin. I used to love watching him and I also used to love David Neitz. He was pretty handy, but obviously I don’t play anything like David Neitz! They were my idols growing up.

LM: With Bucks starting as coach this year, what sort of advise or encouragement has he given you as a third year player?
BS: He’s been very helpful this season, and last season as well along with Mick. He’s just told me to keep working on my strengths which is my pressure on the ball and all that kind of work. Over the pre-season he just wanted me to get a bit of extra fitness which I’ve improved on this year as it’s probably the first full pre-season I’ve completed which has been very handy. Also just to put on a bit more weight over the start of the season which I was able to do but I was still able to put a bit more on during the year which would be good.

LM: It might sound like a stupid question, but what’s more important for you as a small forward circa 2012 - goals or applying pressure?
BS: For me, I think I’m in the team for tackling and pressure I put on so that’s my focus to apply as much pressure as I can. If I can get a few goals here and there, it’s something that I’m trying to work on and it’s very helpful if I can get them.

LM: You’ve managed to keep a pretty low profile until recently, which isn’t an easy thing to do while playing for Collingwood. How have you managed that?
BS: I hadn’t expected it, but it’s pretty full on. All the supporters get behind you each week and it’s pretty amazing how many supporters we get turning up to each game and how many people follow us and how big the club is. We pretty much play a blockbuster every month so it’s pretty amazing. I’m slowly getting used to it. I still go under the radar a fair bit. I don’t really get noticed, but I’m happy with that.

LM: Has there been a moment this season where you felt like you had ‘clicked’ as a league footballer?
BS: I think that with playing each game you get a bit more confidence to be able to take the game on a bit more. Over time, I think I’ve grown with more confidence and that’s probably the main reason.

LM: What was your aim coming into the season? Did you anticipate playing every game to this point?
BS: Obviously at the very start of the season the main aim was to play round one and I was able to get that opportunity. Every since then, it’s been to stay in the senior side and my main aim is to try and become a consistent member of the senior side and then hopefully if I can manage that and stay in for the season then I could play a few finals.

LM: On the finals - last season you played against Geelong in round 24 but missed out on the finals. You were still named as an emergency for the Grand Final and went through the Parade before the match. What was that experience like and how close were you to getting a game?
BS: That was an amazing experience to go through the city with 1000s of people cheering you on. I was pretty shocked to see that support for us. I’m not sure how close to playing when I was an emergency but definitely this year it has spurred me on to have a solid pre-season and I managed to get that done so that was step one. It’s definitely keeping me going to try and play good footy each week and try to stay in the side if we do make the finals and have a crack this year. Hopefully I can give it a crack myself.

Sinclair as a 17-year-old in his Vic Metro playing guernsey; Sinclair's half brother Will Slade who played 17 games for Geelong between 2002 and 2006; waving to the crowd during last year's Grand Final Parade.