Sam Reid’s ride to a Grand Final has been incredible. Picture: Getty Images
Sam Reid’s ride to a Grand Final has been incredible. Picture: Getty Images

‘You’ve just sacked me and now you want me back?’

SAM Reid would sling a backpack on and wince as his shoulder popped out.

It was 2013 and the Greater Western Sydney utility's injury curse had followed him from the Western Bulldogs.

"In my second year I played four games and had osteitis pubis the whole year, and pushed through when I probably shouldn't have," Reid said.

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"I ended up destroying my groins and then got diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes."

That diagnosis came after Reid dropped 16kg in a couple of weeks.

Reid said if he wasn't a professional athlete, his dangerous blood sugar levels would've put him in a coma.

"It was after I had the groin reconstruction," he said.

Sam Reid during his early days with the Western Bulldogs.
Sam Reid during his early days with the Western Bulldogs.

"I just thought I'd lose a little bit of weight, lose muscle tone, and I went into the club one day and Bazza (Hall) reckoned I looked gaunt.

"I felt OK, but they reckoned I looked shocking, so I jumped on the scales - I hadn't actually got on there because I didn't want to know how much I'd lost from the surgery.

"I'd gone from 85kg to 69kg. It was crazy."

In 2010 Reid fought his way back for a heavyweight clash against Hawthorn in Round 14.

"It was my first game back (after diabetes) and I dislocated my right shoulder trying to run it into the back of Sam Mitchell at the MCG," he said.

"I went off, got it taped up, and came back on and dislocated my left one in the same game.

"So I ended up missing the rest of the year and had shoulder recos six weeks apart. I'd had no shoulder problems before that night."

By halfway through 2011 Reid decided enough was enough and he would join the Giants for their inaugural AFL season, with housemate Callan Ward eventually making the same decision.

"When I moved up here Chad Cornes actually dislocated my shoulder before a game against Essendon in the warm-up, because he was a bit crazy," Reid said.

"I ended up playing through that for about 10 games. Every time I'd put a backpack on my shoulder would fall out.

"I've had four shoulder reconstructions - two on each - I've had a groin reconstruction and they don't do that operation anymore and I've had both my hips done.

"So I've had a bit done."

Reid - an elite runner standing 188cm and weighing 85kg - looked the perfect prototype to play AFL.

But shoulders as wonky as a beer wagon and after another bout of hip surgery, by the end of 2013 it was the Giants that decided enough was enough.

Coach Leon Cameron asked Reid to walk away from the final year of his playing contract to get a head start on a coaching career at the club.

It looked like the end of the Sam Reid story. As it turned out, it was just the start.

"I don't know what it was but it was just ridiculous. It was like the pressure was off me and my body just loved playing and training," Reid said.

"That first year out I actually trained more than what I had the first six pre-seasons, and I wasn't even playing. I was just captaining the twos in the NEAFL.

Sam Reid during his early days with the Giants.
Sam Reid during his early days with the Giants.

"The second year I had a really good year and halfway through the year my coaching contract was running out and I sat down with Leon and, I thought at the time, he jokingly said, 'we're thinking about putting you on the rookie list if that's something you want to look at'.

"I couldn't believe it. I'm thinking, 'you've just sacked me two years ago and now you want to pick me up again?'

"I 100 per cent laughed, I thought he was kidding. But he said it a couple of times after I kicked a couple of bags in the twos.

"I kicked a bag of six and I came in and we had no forwards and he's like, 'Geez you'd be playing if you were on the list this week'."

It was a tough decision. Reid had also fielded some "really good offers" to head to the Ovens and Murray or Goulburn Valley leagues as playing-coach.

Sam Reid with his wife Elissa and newborn baby boy Elijah. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Sam Reid with his wife Elissa and newborn baby boy Elijah. Picture: Phil Hillyard

But wife Elissa, who gave birth to the couple's first child at 3.38am on Monday, urged Reid to shoulder the AFL load once again.

Three years later and he is in a grand final as one of just four Giants to play every game in 2019.

In fact, 46 out of Reid's 89 career games have come in 2018-19.

So, what changed?

Reid reckons it was his diet. These days he is largely pescetarian, eating vegetarian 4-5 days a week plus the odd chicken or fish meal.

He has cut out dairy and every morning starts the same way, downing half a litre of celery juice.

"I buy a shitload of celery at the start of the work and blend it all up in one hit and leave it in the fridge," he said.

Sam Reid celebrates with teammates after qualifying for the Grand Final. Picture: Getty Images
Sam Reid celebrates with teammates after qualifying for the Grand Final. Picture: Getty Images

Reid - who wears maroon speedos every game to bring the "Queensland State of Origin spirit" - didn't even have a manager when he was redrafted in 2016.

"It was a bit of a waste of money when I was coaching," he said.

"The first two contracts I did after I came back on the list I did myself."

At 29 he is the ultimate late bloomer. Reid no longer bothers taping his shoulders and has his diabetes management well under control.

He tests his blood sugar levels at halftime by pricking a finger, just after Cameron's address, and injects insulin into the dartboard tattoo on his stomach four times each day.

Last week the regular halfback played on Will Hoskin-Elliott and last time against Richmond he was tasked with minding Kane Lambert.

Former coach Kevin Sheedy said Reid's best skill, apart from his athleticism, was his concentration.

So, what position is his?

"I don't know what I am," he said.

"I've played every position throughout my career. I think I'm Leon's fix-it guy, if he wants me to go to someone I'll go to them."

And the thought of a healthy baby and an AFL premiership in the same week?

"It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it," Reid said.