“You’re running around out there playing match simulation with guys who you watched on TV, it’s been pretty cool.”
They were the words uttered by first-year player Harry DeMattia when asked about what it’s like to be a Collingwood player and train alongside the likes of Scott Pendlebury, Jordan DeGoey, and the Daicos brothers.
But the 18-year-old hasn’t wasted time being starstruck.
Lauded by coaches and players for his dedication and professionalism, DeMattia has hit the ground running quite literally during his first pre-season with the Magpies.
He impressed right from the get-go, running 10-metres in just 1.7 seconds to eclipse the likes of Beau McCreery, Jakob Ryan and other first to four-year players during testing on day one of pre-season.
Off the training track, he has been celebrated in front of the whole playing group for his regular contributions in team meetings.
“(Harry) has been an absolute participant, not a recipient,” Director of Coaching Brendon Bolton said in a team meeting.
“We have no idea what you do know or don’t know, but you ask questions and make comments straight away and participated straight away.”
The former Victoria Country Under 18 Co-Captain and representative level junior cricketer has brought an elevated level of diligence to his inaugural year at the Club - one not often expected of draftees.
“His character is exceptional and he’s such a diligent hard worker and wants to continue to get better every day which is so much in line with what we’re about, so he’s made a terrific start,” Head of Development Josh Fraser said.
“He’s a guy who’s set the agenda pretty early that he wants to be a great player for the Club over time and we know that will take time and that he’s got a lot of development in front of him, but his mindset and his application is there and as a Coach that is all you can ask for.”
This diligence is evident in his approach to improving his game and looking after his body, with the 18-year-old regularly seen doing extra skill sessions, gym workouts and recovery in the ice bath above and beyond the set schedule.
“I try to do them (ice baths) each morning before training or after a big day of training on field. I just try and relax the muscles and any soreness or anything after treatment I just try and flush that out,” DeMattia said.
“I’m fortunate enough a lot of the boys around here do it as well, so you’re not really alone doing this kind of stuff, but on my days off I’m doing it on my own – it’s more a mental thing as well just to switch off and enjoy what I’m doing.”
With speed and agility, DeMattia brings even greater versatility to a squad brimming with young talent ready to take the next step in their careers.
“Potentially Harry could start across our half-back line, but he’s also got scope to run through the middle of the ground. I think the philosophy is to give him exposure to both,” said Head of Development Josh Fraser.
“He’s certainly not waiting. He’s been very proactive in wanting to own his career and that gives us great confidence as a coaching group that he’s going to be fast tracked in many aspects.”
With almost two months of pre-season training under his belt, the next step for DeMattia will be Collingwood’s intra-club, match simulation, and practice games in February.
From there, the world is his oyster.