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Positive attitude sees Matera bounce back

Matera takes his moment Brandon Matera talks about his season so far and what had to happen for him to be at his best

An errant elbow in the JLT Community Series threatened to derail what Brandon Matera hoped to be his bounce-back season.

The 27-year-old took on extra personal training sessions in the summer and put an end to his self-described sugar habit in a bid to revitalise a career that appeared to stall in 2018, kicking 13 goals from 18 games.

Matera was arguably one of Fremantle’s hardest worker on and off the training track leading into the 2019 season but it counted for nothing come round one with the small forward ruled out due to suspension. 

With Matera watching from the sidelines, Freo started the 2019 season on a high with an 82-point win against North Melbourne.

“I probably would have played round one, I felt I had a good pre-season, I had good JLT form so I was ready to go in round one but I shot myself in the foot by being suspended,” Matera said. 

“Watching the boys play, I definitely wanted to be out there, but the win gave me goosebumps.

“I thought we deserved it after our JLT Series, we didn’t win any of the games but I felt the way we played, it was exciting and we knew we could grow off that and improve.”

The disappointment continued at the selection table for Matera, left out of Fremantle’s round two trip to the Gold Coast to face his former team.

Matera said that it was important to keep his head up and approach his stint in the WAFL with the right attitude. 

“After seeing the round one win, I obviously wanted to get straight back into the team,” Matera said. 

“But I didn’t get picked in round two, so I went back to Peel and really worked hard.

“It’s important showing that you’re not disappointed, even though you are.

“It’s about getting out there and enjoying your footy. When you’re enjoying your footy, you feel like you’re playing better footy, so I didn’t want to show that I was disappointed, I just wanted to get out there and play for them.”

Matera performed well in Peel’s pre-season game against Perth, picking up 17 disposals, five marks, four tackles and kicking two goals.

It was enough to see Matera return for round three, where he kicked a vital three goals in Freo’s five-point win against St Kilda.

The highlight was a diving mark in the forward pocket where Matera out-ran three St Kilda opponents and snapped a goal.

The moment illustrated what a fitter and hungrier Matera could be capable of in 2019.

It was also a much-needed boost for Fremantle after losing captain Nat Fyfe for the game to concussion a minute prior. 

“(The goal) was partly having confidence and playing more on instinct as well,” Matera said. 

“I just remember Ed (Langdon) kicking it and as I saw the ball go up, I looked to the boundary and for some reason I knew it wasn’t going out. I just gave my all and got there and took the mark. 

“It was all about…obviously I want to be in the team, so I want to keep my spot and give all that I can for the team to win.”

Matera said his current form doesn’t just come down to improved fitness.

In the off-season, Freo brought in tall forwards Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb, who have helped give structure to Freo’s attack.

It has resulted in the duo helping bring the best out of the whole of Freo’s forward line.

While Hogan and Lobb have contributed five goals each in 2019, Freo’s four leading goal kickers are players who were at the club previously in Michael Walters (13 goals), Matera (12), Matt Taberner (11) and Cam McCarthy (10).

“I definitely think the pre-season has really helped my form at the moment,” Matera said.

“But it’s also the way the team is playing this year. With the tall players coming in up front and having someone to kick to, the ball movement has been a bit more predictable and us smalls are getting to their feet, applying that pressure and giving ourselves shots on goal. 

“I’ve probably kicked the score but there’s a lot of work to go on down in that forward line. Sam Switkowski has helped me out quite a bit as well as Michael Walters and the tall boys are bringing it to ground. 

“There’s obviously a few things going into everything, I’m just the lucky one on the end of it.”

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