Josh celebrates a goal against Oakleigh in round one. Source: AFL Photos
'Dragons Tales' is a series of indepth feature stories on some of our top prospects in 2021, exploring their junior careers, their upbringing, the ups and downs of the dealing with COVID complications and more, written by Jonty Ralphsmith. This week we will be focusing on the dashing and versatile Josh Sinn.
It was a necessary circuit-breaker from football.
With each passing week in lockdown, the disappointment grew, and exhaustion weighed increasingly heavy. A sense of nihilism and complacency threatened to infiltrate the Dragons squad.
That’s when Josh Sinn stepped in.
The underlying theme from teammates about a timely virtual trivia night that Sinn organised in August – with the input of other leaders – was that it was a necessary reminder of the camaraderie at the Dragons amid the repetitive drab of lockdown.
“The trivia was the highlight of the zoom meetings because it was at a point where kids were thinking about where the season was heading, whether we were going to get back or not and the Kahoot was just a massive piss-take,” Sinn said.
“There was nothing factual, but everyone was having a good time but once that finished, everyone turned their mics on and we were all just having shots at each other, it was really enjoyable.”
It was one of a number of ideas thrown around at the Dragons’ leadership meetings about keeping the squad motivated during lockdown.
Whoever gets Sinn’s services next year also attains a terrific clubman.
In preseason, he trekked from his Brighton home to Bundoora to lend a hand on the sidelines as his local club, Old Xavierians, played a handful of preseason games.
When spoken to mid-year, he gleamed about the breakthroughs of Ben Hempel and Harry Sheezel as 17-year-olds playing in the under 19s program.
Constantly on the phone to teammates during lockdown, he used their hard work to further motivate him during his recovery.
Even once he found out the season was over, he was still searching for ways to contribute: “Once that preseason comes around, I’m going to shift focus to setting a really good example for next year’s group and the many years to come,” he said.
In the weeks leading up to the NAB AFL Draft, he has liaised with fellow Dragon Sam Hansen who enters his top-age year next season, about how to approach the challenge.
“Something Josh does really well is he understands people and I think he has a really good read on individuals and a really good read on the group which emulates in the decisions he makes and the players he checks in on and how he communicates with players,” 2021 Dragons Coach Jackson Kornberg said.
“You could do the same thing with every single player on the list, but Josh is a real individual-based leader.
“He’ll talk to someone differently depending on how they learn best or how they react, and I think that comes from being really mature.”
As he conditions himself for senior footy, his two-kilometre time trial result was a pleasing way to end the year, as the time of 6.41 was the first time he went under the 7-minute mark.
It was reward for his hard work rehabilitating his injury and training during lockdown. Boxing, watching behind-the-goals vision of AFL matches – Sinn watched GWS midfielder Josh Kelly and Melbourne’s Christian Salem closely – and cycling, all formed part of his regime.
“I’ve got heaps of mini-goals I’ve gotta tick with my rehab. I’ve simplified everything so it is a goal every four days I’ve gotta tick – at the moment it’s running without pain and calf-weighted raises,” he said in August.
When allowed and fit he was back at the park working on his kicking with Kornberg.
“We just went through kicking craft under pressure and footwork which is really important for him to be more composed with the ball and take more care with his kicking and he's changed up a couple of little things," Kornberg said.
He played two more games in between injuries and lockdown, returning on Sandy’s trip to Tasmania to play the Devils, before an outing for Vic Metro showcased his weapons until he was again struck down by injury.
“Josh is an elite kick of the ball, he just unfortunately he hasn’t shown it to a consistent level across the season,” Kornberg said.
“When we go into that Metro game, I thought that was probably his best game from a kicking point-of-view. I reflect on that, and we sat down and when we got to the vision we thought that that’s what we need to aim for.
“I still regard him as the most damaging kick at the club and I think arguably you could say one of the more damaging kicks in the entire competition when he’s up and going.”
The last two years have given Sinn greater perspective as he prepares himself for likely selection at the AFL draft.
“I learnt it is what it is really. That’s the way I’ve been living life since [the lockdowns have hit], there’s no point dwelling on the past, it is all about taking that next step forward and that’s really important, especially for me during injuries.
“It’s all about making myself a better athlete. Is it [through] doing extra rehab? Is it [through] learning about the opposition and helping the team out? So I think that has worked out well.”
And throughout that time, he always remained positive and motivated by his Dragons teammates.
“There’s always messages flying around and you’ll see the Dragons pop up on the top as the group chat name, it’s just a little reminder that we’re all in this together and it’s more than just a football team that kicks a footy around, it’s a good bunch of people.”
In the next edition of Dragons Tales, some of Josh's junior coaches reflect on their experiences working with him.