CHRIS Masten admits he felt "nowhere" mentally after finding himself on the outer at West Coast last season, but says more clarity around his role and the birth of his first child, Tex, have helped him refocus for 2018.

In an honest interview with this week, Masten conceded even he was a touch surprised by his unexpected call-up for the season opener against Sydney.

But the hard-running Eagle did his job connecting defence with attack – picking up 15 touches and slotting a goal – in a boost for his self-belief after being relegated to the WAFL for a chunk of last season. 

Match preview: Western Bulldogs v West Coast

"That was a big learning curve. I hadn't been dropped for nine years or something. Mentally I was nowhere at the back half of the year," Masten said.  

"You come back in and are like 'Oh wow, am I good enough? Can I still do this?'. I know now I can.  

"I was probably trying to be something I wasn't and I've just got to play a role.

I'm not going to go out and star and get three Brownlow votes, but I can help us win and that's all I want to do.  

Masten beefed up and tried to fight for more contested ball in 2017, instead of focusing on what got him drafted at pick No.3 a decade earlier – his elite work rate. 

"I forgot about my run," the 175-game veteran said. 

"I put on three or four extra kilos because I wanted to be strong in the contest but then it sort of limited the way I was able to move across the ground. 

"It hurt me in the end."

Chris Masten played a few kilos heavier in 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

The 28-year-old became a whipping boy in an inconsistent line-up last year, with fans venting frustration at his kicking efficiency, and he was axed after appearing in the opening 10 games.  

Despite being recalled three more times Masten couldn't hold his spot for successive weeks, and rumours circulated that he could be on the table during the NAB AFL Trade Period. 

However, West Coast and his manager Colin Young quickly quashed that speculation.

"They were really good. I spoke to my management and he (Young) said to me 'would you maybe look somewhere else?'. I've just had a kid. I don't want to go," Masten reflected. 

"I had a couple of years to go on my contract, so I was happy to stay here but West Coast said straight away, 'Nup, you're required, we're not going to chuck your name up' and I don’t think I was spoken about at all internally.

"That was reassuring but people are going to say what they're going to say, especially about me. I'm a pretty easy target I think, so I'll cop it.  

"It doesn't really affect me, I think it probably affects my family a bit more. They take it to heart more than what I do."

Although Masten found it tough to swallow being sent back to East Perth at first, the opportunity to take a leadership role softened the blow and his WAFL stint served as added motivation for pre-season. 

He didn't play any part in the JLT Community Series – with quad and hamstring niggles putting him behind the eight-ball – but the maturing Eagle took the setbacks in his stride, partly due to a newfound perspective since the arrival of Tex on January 16.  

"I love my footy, it's my whole world pretty much, but then it's not. You realise it's just a game," Masten said.

"You've got this little bloke at home who is so dependent on his mum and dad to help him grow up, so it's pretty wicked.

"Now you're going to bed at 7.30pm, so it's a bit of a different lifestyle but it's for the best, definitely.

"It's hard work but it's the best thing I've ever done."

Yeah the boys

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