LAST year Rhys Mathieson famously referred to himself as 'The Barometer' in a post-match interview, and after listening to Lincoln McCarthy and looking at statistics, his throwaway quip might be bang on the money.
Mathieson played his first game for 2022 on Saturday, earning four AFL Coaches Association votes for his 23 disposals and career-high 10 clearances against Greater Western Sydney.
It continued a fine run of results for Brisbane when Mathieson has started in the 22 since it became a finals contender in 2019.
After spending this season dominating in the VFL, the caged Lion was ferocious against the Giants, forming part of a midfield unit that paved the way for a 40-point victory.
He won seven free kicks for his bull-at-a-gate intensity.
Speaking on Tuesday, McCarthy said Mathieson brought something different to the table when he played.
"Have you seen the size of the bloke? He's a big boy," McCarthy chuckled.
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"He spends a lot of time in the gym. I think he's got a real presence about him.
"We all love being around him both on field and off field.
"When he comes to training, when he comes to games, he has a really good energy, and we all draw from that."
With Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale, captain Dayne Zorko and ever-consistent Jarryd Lyons – who has been top four in the best and fairest the past three years – the core of Brisbane's midfield, chances for Mathieson have been few and far between.
And he's no certainty to play Gold Coast on Saturday night, with Zorko, Jarrod Berry and Daniel Rich all training strongly on Tuesday after missing the weekend's win with soft tissue injuries.
However, when Mathieson plays, the Lions generally have success.
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In nine games he started last year, they won eight, including wins over Port Adelaide and Richmond.
Since 2019, he's been involved in 16 wins from 20 games (aside from when he's played as the medical sub).
To be fair, many of those games were against teams outside the top eight, and while Mathieson is just one of 22 players, McCarthy said the 25-year-old's attitude was infectious.
"That's what we love about Rhys, he's the same bloke whether he's getting picked or not," he said.
"He keeps pushing forward really hard, he keeps working on his game, but even better he stays really consistent with his emotional energy.
"To have a guy like that, I think it really sets the standard in how we want to be as a squad.
"Not everyone's going to be able to play every week, but the ability to stay connected and emotionally engaged is really important for the group.
"It's something we certainly love about Rhys whether he's playing or not."