After assuming the role as St Kilda’s Jack of all trades in Season 2020, Jack Sinclair has fortified his position across half-back to strong effect.
Singled out as the ‘one to watch’ through all of pre-season, the No. 35 has delivered on that early season promise and slotted seamlessly into the Saints’ defensive make-up to become an undeniable positive from an otherwise turbulent year.
With the Saints’ embattled backline coming under siege on several occasions throughout the year, the sure-footed Sinclair has risen above to drive his side out of immediate danger and provide a reliable link between defence and offence.
While pace and link-up plays have been staples in his playbook, it’s been his dependability across this season’s 13-game body of work which has impressed the most.
And it’s a factor that will need to persevere as the Saints prepare to enter an incredibly challenging stretch of games in the back half of the season.
By the numbers
Games (2021): 13
Goals (2021): 1
Key stats: First for St Kilda’s intercepts (99), second for goal assists (eight), third for rebound-50s (46), contested possessions (99), defensive-half pressure acts (123), ground-ball gets (75)
|Disposals (avg)||Intercepts (avg)||Rebound-50s (avg)||Inside-50s (avg)||Score involvements (avg)||Metres gained (avg)|
*Please note that none of last year's numbers have been normalised for the change in game-time.
Judging by the numbers alone, Sinclair’s impact has only continued to grow.
While it makes sense that his defensive statistics (rebound-50s, intercepts) have risen from last year’s due to his new role in defence in 2021, his attacking figures have remained steady, and in some cases, increased.
Average score involvements have been boosted, as have his disposal and metres gained metrics. Sinclair additionally leads the Saints for intercepts with an average of 6.1 per game.
While there are a number of games to point to – including games against the Cats, Bulldogs and Swans – Sinclair’s best arguably came against Hawthorn in Round 7.
It was a brilliant blend of offence and defence, with the mullet-wearing Saint collecting 26 disposals, five rebound-50s, four inside-50s and a goal to cap off the 69-point win.
Sinclair also earned six AFL Coaches’ Association votes for his standout match.
The season to date
A best-on-ground performance in the AAMI Community Series match against Carlton validated (28 disposals, 10 score involvements, eight intercepts, seven inside-50s) Sinclair’s positional shift for the 2021 Season.
It was strange to think that the newest member of the backline brigade – who had never played down back in his senior career – boasted the highest number of games due to the absences of Jarryn Geary, Jake Carlisle and James Frawley, but his impact since has shown otherwise.
But with a sturdier frame and his speed unhampered as a result, Sinclair was prepared for more stoppage and aerial work across the defensive arc.
A strong opening to the season proper in torrid conditions backed up the reason for optimism, as did a solid performance in St Kilda’s stunning second-half turnaround in Round 4 against West Coast.
In the opening month of the year, Sinclair also reached his 100-game milestone and was handed his guernsey by one Tony Lockett.
Breakaway speed through the middle of the ground as well as a tenacious presence across half-back and at stoppages have continued to punctuate his campaign, with his importance to the Saints’ attack still felt despite his defensive position.
AFLCA votes against Hawthorn (6) and standout performances against Geelong and the Western Bulldogs were ideal examples, despite the latter two games resulting in losses of far different magnitudes.
Sinclair closed out his pre-bye run with two 20+ disposal outings against Sydney and Adelaide.