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Fit Freo causing selection headaches

Brandon Matera speaks during Wednesday's media conference. Brandon Matera chats to the media ahead of the first JLT series game.

With an almost fully fit Fremantle squad returning from a four-day break, Brandon Matera says he doesn’t envy the difficult decisions facing the coaching staff heading into the JLT Community Series.

With the side that will face Adelaide on Sunday yet to be finalised, Matera is unsure if he’ll be a part of the side travelling to South Australia to play at Strathalbyn Oval, 55km south east of Adelaide.

Fremantle had more than 40 players participate in full training on Wednesday with only a handful taking part in rehabilitation exercises.

The small forward also noted the speed of Fremantle’s list, with Matera himself looking to add some pace and agility to the forwardline in 2018.

“There’s some quick boys out here, I’ve noticed that, and a very fit list too,” Matera said.

“Most of the boys are available, which is good, so it’s going to be a headache for the coaches and exciting times for us as well, to have an almost full squad going into JLT.”

The former Gold Coast Sun hopes to form part of a dynamic forwardline with Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne and is enjoying the competition for a place in Freo's starting 22.

“That’s what you want in the team, to have boys knocking on the door and keeping each other accountable,” Matera said.

“So all of us have been training well and it gives the coaches headaches, but that’s the spot you want to be in going into the start of the season. 

“Hopefully, we (Walters, Ballantyne and Matera) can all play in the same team and it would be good for us.”

While Ballantyne and Walters pose as Matera’s biggest challenge for selection in Freo’s attack, he said the pair have been the two he’s looked up to most since his arrival at Fremantle during the 2017 NAB AFL Trade Period.

“‘Sonny’ Walters has been massive training on the track and I’ve looked up to him quite a bit,” Matera said. 

“Even Hayden Ballantyne. This is the first full pre-season he’s done in a while and he’s moving really well out there.

“He and Sonny have helped me heaps through this preseason with the standards, and the way they train and do things around the club has helped me.” 

The 25-year-old, who kicked 124 goals from 101 games with Gold Coast, says his directive from senior coach Ross Lyon was to apply pressure on the opposition defence.

“It’s to play a pressure role as a small forward and play on instinct when we have the footy,” Matera said.

“I probably will play forward, probably more than say the midfield, but Ross did say a couple times I would be up in the midfield around the stoppages so I’ll just play the part I have to do for the team.”

Fremantle play Adelaide on Sunday 25 February at Strathalbyn Oval, with bouncedown at 1:35pm CDT (11:05am WST)

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs