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No hype, but Broadbent to build on breakout season

Harry Thring  March 31, 2013 10:31 AM

AFL 2013 NAB Cup Rd 03 - West Coast v Port Adelaide

Matthew Broadbent fires off a handball against West Coast in the NAB Cup


MATTHEW Broadbent was a rare gem in 2012, but he's been Port Adelaide's forgotten man over the summer.

The midfielder was one of only four at Alberton to play all 22 games last year and he did so averaging almost 20 disposals an encounter.

When his teammates struggled, or were struck down with injury, Broadbent persevered.

He was second at the club for clearances (79), equal second for goal assists (11) and third for inside 50s (73) and contested possessions (167).

He also averaged a goal a game and was ultimately rewarded by finishing equal runner up with Brad Ebert in the Power's best and fairest.

But despite his newfound status as one of the club's most reliable players, Broadbent has managed a quiet approach to season 2013.

Much-hyped draftees, imports and changes at coaching and administration levels have hogged the spotlight and the modest 22-year-old told he was glad to roll with it.

"I'm more than happy to go under the radar," Broadbent said.

"Ken (Hinkley) and 'Richo' (senior assistant Alan Richardson) and all the new coaches have obviously had a fair bit of publicity which is great because it's pumping up the club.

"The players have just looked to improve each session over the summer and I've done the same individually I suppose.

"Coming into games now I'm just happy to do my role and play my part for the team … whether that be forward, on the wing, on-ball, even half back; I've been thrown around a bit, but I've enjoyed the challenges that come with that."

Preview: Demons v Power

Broadbent denied he felt pressure to follow up and improve on his breakout 2012.

In his typically mild-mannered approach, he said gradual improvement was the key to keeping his career on an upward climb.

Specifically though, Broadbent has worked heavily on the defensive side to his game over the pre-season in an attempt to increase his tackling capacity.

"If you do the little things right every session and you stack those up, that builds up to something pretty big," he said.

"At the end of each year you look back at a few of the things you thought you did well and other things you think you can improve on – I think every player would have done that.

"Tackling and pressure are a few things I've been looking to take to another level over the pre-season ... it's certainly an area I can see myself improving on.

"We've done a lot of work on our tackling and had a wrestling coach come over … the way we've reviewed our pre-season games has also focused heavily on the defensive side to our game."

Echoing skipper Travis Boak's sentiment, Broadbent said the Power's impressive pre-season would mean nothing should they fall into bad habits on Sunday.

He said the club had prepared as well as it could, but that it was now time to let its football do the talking.

"On the footy field's where it all counts at the end of the day, we're really excited to take on Melbourne," he said.

"We're coming from a long way back and we've got a lot of respect to earn back, but we think the work we've done over the summer is going to hold us in good stead. We're really confident."

Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry.