Harry DeMattia has been prepared to set the standards even before his first day as an AFL footballer.
Mature and composed – both on and off the field – the 18-year-old who was selected with Pick 25 last Monday night has stood out over the 2023 season, seeing him captain both the Dandenong Stingrays and Victoria Country.
Relentlessly working and tailoring his training for an opportunity at an AFL club, DeMattia feels prepared to have immediate impact at the AIA Centre.
“I’m big on all the physical side of the game and gym with mobility, preparation and recovery,” DeMattia said.
“I do ice baths, saunas, all on top of my four or five days a week at the gym that we would have back at Dandenong. I would get into training early and watch about an hour to an hour and a half vision on Tuesday nights reflecting on the game and as captain about how I could quickly shift my attention towards the group and how we could get better.
“Then I’d come about an hour and a half earlier again and do some speed work with Benny our Strength and Conditioning coach and go through opposition analysis and see where I can nullify my opponents’ impact around stoppage.
“I’d touch into the mental side of the game as well, visualisation, meditation, and be able to switch off and have a good balance so that when I’m at training I’m 100% locked in but then when it’s time to switch off I can switch off.”
It is clear that DeMattia is self-motivated and excited to continue to drive his professional standards in an elite environment.
The left-footer has had individual success from an young age but he said he had to develop some patience throughout his junior career with his teams not always performing.
“It started from a young age when I’d have personal success but as a team we might not so it was important to work out how to support others particularly with training habits,” he said.
“It was important to get down to understand why my teammates didn’t have the same drive or direction as me and how I could best help them get them up to that standard.
“It was about not leaving them behind and maintaining my patience with them but rather understanding why and how I could help as a leader. That was important at a young age in both cricket and footy and just naturally flowed on to today where I continue to do it.
“My patience has come a long way and understanding how and why I can help guide those younger boys has been a big thing this year particularly around training habits with the boys at the Stingrays.
“As soon as we get into training, I’ll get a great understanding of the role I’ll be playing and the game plan and values and I can start being a part of that."
Much was made of DeMattia’s dual talents throughout the lead up to this year’s draft, with the new Pie also a star junior cricketer.
Seven days before Christmas last year, he made a century for Victoria Metro in the Under 19 National Cricket Championships, while a few days later he was running drinks for the Australian team in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
But 327 days after he handed those bottles of water to the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner, he found himself celebrating as he joined the Pies.
“Ever since the COVID lockdown in 2020 is when I started enjoying football more and I missed those couple of seasons and then realised how much I missed it,” DeMattia said of his balance between footy and cricket.
“When I got appointed captain of Dandenong last November is when I naturally took over trying to be around the group, learn everyone’s personalities and see how I could captain them and how I could best develop people and then that naturally took over from my cricket.
“Obviously, I did really enjoy my cricket then and was just a little bit edging towards footy and while I was there, I was going 110% towards cricket…but when I came back and I was in footy mode, this was my draft year and it was just a really good chance for me to get picked up and fortunately enough I did.”