Ex-South Launceston and Western Storm, Matt Hanson finally feels ready to play in the AFL

CLASS: One-time South Launceston talent Matt Hanson is rated one of the most consistent stars, not only at Werribee but the VFL. Picture: Supplied
CLASS: One-time South Launceston talent Matt Hanson is rated one of the most consistent stars, not only at Werribee but the VFL. Picture: Supplied

Unprecedented three-time best and fairest winner Matt Hanson has re-signed at Werribee, but the premier VFL onballer is hoping not to return to the club next year. 

As is coach John Lamont. 

“Part of me doesn’t want him to play with us,” Lamont said, “because it means an AFL club has given him an opportunity, which I think he thoroughly deserves.”

Lamont is now the biggest fan of Hanson. Even when the mentor had been critical.

Improve work around stoppages. Tick. Improve game under pressure. Tick. Improve pinpoint kicks. Tick.

“He’s just had a massive impact since he arrived from Tasmania,” Lamont said.

“The key thing for me has been his game has continued to improve – that says a lot. 

“He’s taken in feedback, absorbed it, and improved his game.”

The 22-year-old is now perfectly placed for that one big push after nominating a third time for the AFL draft.

“I’ve had a bit of feedback from a few people around the clubs,” Hanson said.

“So hopefully in the near future they will contact me. But it’s just a waiting game.”

The 2014 Alastair Lynch Medal runner-up has grown.

For the ball magnet that has attracted three straight club champion awards, just looking to Werribee’s honour boards inserts divine faith.

James Podsiadly, Michael Barlow, Dale Morris, Shaun Smith, Simon Atkins.

All AFL success stories.

“This has probably been my best year or most consistent out of the three,” he said.

“Coming back from preseason, I knew there was still a few things I had to work on.

“I work closely on those with Johnny again and he gave me more pointers and directions in the right way.

“Throughout the year, I’ve improved in those areas.”

The South Launceston TSL premiership player turned Western Storm star is open to play in the AFL anywhere.

But half of the 18 clubs based in Melbourne would guarantee not walking away from a personal training business under brother Will.

Hanson has blossomed in the role away from football, but has also benefited from working with the strength and conditioning coaches at Werribee’s previous AFL affiliate, North Melbourne.

“When I was out of the Mariners squad, I was like a little kid. I was really skinny – I was really light,” he said.

“The next few years I built up like a proper footballer.

“I feel I am a proper size now and if I got drafted I feel I’d be ready to play round 1.”

But that’s just a part of it. 

Building a robust body was the first step to tackling AFL-listed players. The other part was this year being taken aside by former Kangaroos captain Andrew Swallow.

“I tried to learn as much as I could off him,” he said. “He was unbelievable for me.”

North Melbourne’s three-time Syd Barker Medallist’s influence was a contributing factor to why Hanson’s key performance indicators all rose in the 2017 VFL season.

Not just disposals, but also efficiency. Tackles and clearances were not only up, but the best in the competition.

Hanson is thankful to have played against bigger bodies first during his time at South Launceston. But the Scotch Oakburn graduate has come a long way in three years. 

“No disrespect to the TSL, but the VFL is obviously a big step up,” Hanson said.

“There’s a lot of AFL-listed quality players that are going around. To get to compete against those guys every week, it blows your mind.”

EASY WORK: Matt Hanson joins in the celebration after a Werribee goal. Picture: Supplied.

EASY WORK: Matt Hanson joins in the celebration after a Werribee goal. Picture: Supplied.