Richmond ruck recruit Sam Naismith has suffered a fourth ACL tear in his career during the Tiger's loss to Sandringham in the VFL on Sunday.

The heart-wrenching injury occurred during an innocuous, no-contact moment in the clash before, before the ruckman collapsed on the field, instantly knowing the severity of the situation.

The 31-year-old was visibly dejected as he was assisted off the ground by trainers, his expression reflecting the crushing reality of potentially another lengthy recovery period.

After playing 30 games for Sydney from 2014 to 2022, Naismith's time with the Swans was marred by three ACL reconstructions, ultimately leading to his delisting.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 04: Sam Naismith of the Swans trains during a Sydney Swans AFL training session at Sydney Cricket Ground on July 4, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Yet, in a testament to his determination, Naismith made a remarkable return to football with Port Melbourne in 2023, which earned him an AFL lifeline with Richmond for the 2024 season.

He featured in the Tigers' season-opener and partnered with captain Toby Nankervis in rounds seven and eight, offering a glimmer of hope and inspiration to fans and teammates alike. However, this latest injury casts a dark shadow over what was a heartening comeback story.

Channel 7 VFL commentator Libby Birch noted the telltale signs of a serious knee injury, highlighting Naismith's immediate reaction to the non-contact incident. Fellow commentator Jason Bennett echoed the sentiments of the football community, expressing deep concern and hoping against hope for a less severe diagnosis.

Sadly, the worst fears were realised. The scans confirmed a ruptured ACL, meaning Naismith will miss the remainder of the 2024 season. This injury not only sidelines him for another extended period but also brings into question the future of his playing career.

For now, the Richmond community and AFL fans are left to grapple with the heartache of seeing a beloved player face such a cruel blow.