Milestone Sun finally realising his potential
ON the cusp of his 100th AFL game, Gold Coast Suns forward Brandon Matera is finally becoming the player he always wanted to be.
Matera will become the sixth player behind Jarrod Harbrow, Tom Lynch, Gary Ablett, Matt Shaw and Michael Rischitelli to reach the milestone when he plays in the Gold Coast's round 12 game against Hawthorn at the MCG today.
The 25-year-old has gone from the verge of losing his spot in the club's best 22 to playing what Rodney Eade labelled career-best football this season.
Matera said he was now happy with where his football was at during this point of his career on the back of some pivotal recent development. He only wished he got there sooner.
"I probably could have been here a bit quicker but my body hasn't helped me," Matera said.
"I feel I'm becoming more consistent with my football. Hopefully I can continue that for the rest of the year.
"The biggest thing I have learnt is putting everything into each week - my preparation and then training hard during the week.
"Taking that into the game really is the main thing I have learnt over the past two years and having the right mindset going from training into games."
Matera said he was honoured to play 100 games for the Suns but said helping the Gold Coast improve its 4-6 season record by beating Hawthorn would be celebration enough.
"It's a special moment to play your 100th game," Matera said.
"I'll probably look back on it later in my career. It's obviously a great honour.
"It's always an honour to put on the jumper each week."
The inaugural Sun was one of 12 17-year-olds drafted by the Gold Coast ahead of its debut season.
Matera and his young teammates were exposed to AFL from the start, playing hardened veterans on a weekly basis in an experience he said had shaped his career.
"We came in real young and got absorbed pretty quickly because we didn't have much cattle out there at the start," Matera said.
"To come through the ranks and play 100 games alongside some great players is a great honour.
"I'll never forget my first game and how quick it was. I was nowhere near fit enough for that. I have only really got the AFL fitness this year."
Matera kicked a career-high six goals in the Gold Coast's 86-point win over Hawthorn in round three this season but expected a vastly improved performance from the Hawks in Melbourne.
"They are similar to us and have been up and down with their consistency," Matera said.
"They are going to want to bounce back from a heavy loss (to Port Adelaide) last week so we have got to be ready to bring what we did on the weekend (against West Coast)."