Main content

'I don't want to feel safe': Pie's mindset pays off

Matthew Scharenberg was a shining light for the Pies in their loss to Geelong - AFL,Collingwood Magpies,Matthew Scharenberg
Matthew Scharenberg was a shining light for the Pies in their loss to Geelong
I don't think I'll ever play AFL footy feeling like my spot is safe
Matthew Scharenberg

MATTHEW Scharenberg's form was not where it needed to be at the start of the season, prompting Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley to concede the backman was "in a bit of a funk" before a dramatic turnaround in form.

The versatile Scharenberg was not selected for round one after an uninspiring JLT Community Series but immediately won his way back into the side following the Magpies' 34-point loss to Hawthorn.

Since his return, Scharenberg has averaged 20.7 disposals and four rebound 50s per game, putting together the most consistent block of football in his injury-hit career.

A change in mindset has made all the difference, with Scharenberg starring in last Sunday's 21-point loss to Geelong with a career-high 29 disposals and 14 marks.

GET BREAKING NEWS ALERTS Subscribe for free with the AFL on Messenger

"It came down to having more impact (on games) and doing what I needed to be able to do that," Scharenberg 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."

Buckley said full credit had to go to Scharenberg for turning things around, and for developing clarity around his role in the side.

"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."

Against the Cats, Scharenberg had a match-high 13 intercept possessions and seven rebound 50s to be one of Collingwood's best players in his 21st AFL game.

Highlighting his improved form, the emerging Magpie has averaged 7.3 intercepts (elite), 4.6 spoils (elite) and has operated at 76.8 per cent kicking efficiency (above average).

Importantly, Scharenberg's ability to read the ball in the air and his composure under pressure - traits that saw him rated so highly during his junior career - have started to materialise more regularly.

Unfortunately, interruptions have been par for the course for the No.6 selection in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, with the 22-year-old undergoing two full knee reconstructions in his four seasons before 2018. 

The South Australian ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing in the VFL in August 2014. He then tore the ACL in his right knee at pre-season training in November 2015, sidelining him for the entire 2016 season.

The 191cm defender also had surgery on both of his feet at the start of 2014, forcing him to miss the first half of his debut year.

Despite those injury setbacks, Scharenberg - who is out of contract at season's end - is confident his body will hold up as his career gathers steam.

"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."

Stats supplied by Champion Data

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

  $(document).ready(function(){ document.getElementById("interaction").innerHTML = ''; });