Matt Hanson is Tasmanian, but he would love nothing more than to pull on the Big V in this Saturday’s state game.
Hanson could get the chance to represent the Victorian Football League for a second time when it clashes with the Western Australian Football League in a representative blockbuster at North Port Oval in Port Melbourne.
It would be another feather in the cap for the star midfielder from the Werribee Tigers, who has made the initial VFL squad of 27, which will be cut down to 22 at selection tomorrow (Thursday) night.
“It was a really big honour to be representing at state level,” Hanson said. “I’m looking forward to it again.”
Having broken into the VFL side last season, Hanson will be expected to go up another level this time around.
Even his own expectations will be different to those of last year, when he had the state game L-plates on.
“I think there will be a lot more expected of me if I get selected,” he said.
“Having played last year, I’ve had a taste of what it’s like and the standard was very high. The intensity was stepped up 10-fold.
“Hopefully if I get selected, I’ll be more composed in the contest.”
Hanson is the pulse of the Werribee Tigers’ midfield.
A hard worker defensively and a clean user of the ball, he is one of the main reasons why the Tigers are entrenched in the top eight after a slow start.
There is no reason why the 21-year-old from South Launceston could not play in a similar role on the ball for the VFL.
If he does, he will certainly be ready for anything his WAFL opponents throw his way.
“You’ve got minimal time to react to things, so you’ve got to really be switched on throughout the whole game,” Hanson said.
“I love the challenge, though. It’s good to play at that elite level.”
The VFL has lost its past three state games, two to the South Australian National Football League, one of which Hanson played in, and one to the WAFL.
You have to go way back to 2012 for the VFL’s last win, when it mauled the Tasmanian Football League by 108 points.
To say it’s a long time between drinks is an understatement.
“It was brought up by ‘Plappy’ [Justin Plapp], the coach, that we just need to get a win,” Hanson said.
“It will be a really tough hit-out, but I reckon we can get over them this year.
“We’ve got a really good team in and we know what the ground is like, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”
Hanson is one of the form players in the VFL. He is a tackling machine and his efficiency with the ball continues to improve.
After missing out at the AFL draft last season, Hanson can use the state game as an avenue to boost his draft prospects.
He admitted he was “disappointed” not to land on an AFL list via the national or rookie drafts last season.
So he is focused more than ever on making it impossible for recruiters to pass him up next time.
“There were a few things I’ve worked on and hopefully, I can keep on improving and see where that takes me,” Hanson said.
“I’m just striving to play my best footy and hopefully one day the dream will come true.”
Hanson says his good form is a byproduct of a lift from all the players around him in the Werribee line-up.
“We’re starting to work well as a team now, so that helps everyone play better,” he said.
Hanson is more than willing though to pump up his teammates, in particular captain Michael Sodomaco, who is the other Werribee player in the VFL state squad.
“‘Sods’ is flying,” Hanson said. “In the time since I’ve been here, I’ve never seen him play better footy.
“He’s an outstanding leader, all the boys respect him and he’s always running off half-back and flying through the guts.
“He’s even kicked a couple of goals this year, which is good. I reckon he’s a sneaky chance to captain the VFL team this year.”