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Brandon Matera heading into 2016 with renewed energy

Michael Whiting - AFL.com.au  January 16, 2016 12:01 PM

AFL 2015 Training - Gold Coast 171215

It's the first time I've gone into a pre-season without a niggle. I was able to start day one and do every session, keep ticking them off.

In the past 12 months, Brandon Matera has got a rocket from his coach, some help from his brother and a reminder from his dad that it's time to knuckle down.

The super talented SUNS small forward has had a rollercoaster five-year career, mixing exciting game-changing skills with long patches of anonymity.

He can snap goals from anywhere on his trusty left foot and also go through entire games virtually unnoticed.

But above all, it was Matera's wavering professionalism that was most concerning.

Matera was quickly sliding out of favouritism, and with Touk Miller, Aaron Hall, Alex Sexton, Jack Martin and Jarrod Garlett all clamouring for spots in the same part of the ground, was no longer guaranteed a place in the side.

He needed to pull his socks up, and coach Rodney Eade let him know about it.

"Rocket was into me pretty early that I didn't work hard enough, and I took that on board," Matera told AFL.com.au.

"It was hard to take, but I've learnt from that.

"If you actually listen to him, he's trying to make you better.

"That's the one thing I got out of him and why I rate him highly as a coach. He works you hard to get the best out of you."

Amid the carnage of the SUNS' season Matera revived his stocks, putting together an excellent back half of the year in which he played wing and midfield as well as his usual small forward spot.

READ: Strong finish sets Matera up for big 2016

He averaged 20 disposals over the final six matches and was suddenly a consistent contributor.

But just as impressive was his return in the pre-season.

Matera came back in good shape and has not missed a beat in the first 10 weeks.

That came on the back of an off-season that saw him work harder than ever.

Matera credits his brother for "getting me out of bed" every day to push him to get into great shape.

"I definitely feel fitter," Matera said.

"It's the first time I've gone into a pre-season without a niggle. I was able to start day one and do every session, keep ticking them off.

"I've just learnt I needed to work harder."

And before returning to Gold Coast from his Perth home following the off-season, Matera's father Wally, who played 56 games for West Coast and Fitzroy, gave his son a valuable reminder.

"Dad told me before I came back that I'm coming into year six and don't want to waste my chances," Matera said.

So far, he's doing everything to make sure that's not the case.