Collingwood defender Matthew Scharenberg has had his fair share of bad luck since being taken by the Pies with the sixth pick in the 2013 AFL draft.
Scharenberg had not been able to cement a spot in Collingwood’s best 22 prior to this season, but after going back to basics, he is reaping the rewards in career-best form.
Since being called into the side in round two this year, Scharenberg is averaging 20.7 disposals, four rebound 50s and 7.3 intercepts per game and he has become a key part of the Pies’ backline.
His best game for the season came on the weekend against Geelong, where he racked up 29 disposals, 14 marks, and seven rebound 50s, which were all career highs.
“It came down to having more impact (on games) and doing what I needed to be able to do that,” he told AFL.com.au.
“Then it was about stripping everything right back and focusing on my role as a defender and getting those things right.”
Coach Nathan Buckley gave full praise to the defender, saying he got himself out of a funk and turned his form around on his own accord.
“Matty had a strong pre-season, but his form throughout the JLT was not great,” Buckley admitted.
“He made a significant shift leading into those last couple of weeks in the VFL practice matches he played in and he really clarified his thinking on his strengths, and mainly that’s his aggressive positioning and (his work in) the contest.
“The other focus was to train those, and we saw a really sharp spike from that. Matty came out of a bit of a funk and is playing as good a football as we have seen.”
In four seasons at the club, the 22-year-old has already had two knee reconstructions and suffered from extensive foot issues, but he is confident his body can hold up now that he’s playing regular footy.
“I don’t think I’ll ever play AFL footy feeling like my spot is safe in the team, and to be honest I don’t want to feel that way,” Scharenberg said.
“I’m pretty happy to have that feeling, because I know that’s something that works for me and that’s how I get the best out of myself.”
Matthew Scharenberg: 2018 ratings
20.7 disposals (above average)
7.3 intercepts (elite)
4.6 spoils (elite)
76.8 per cent kicking efficiency (above average)
Scharenberg since round two
First at Collingwood for disposal efficiency, spoils
Second for intercepts, marks and intercept marks
Third for time on ground percentage
Fourth for contested marks and uncontested marks
Fifth for effective disposals