In his second season at Goulburn Valley League powerhouse club Kyabram, Mick Mattingly has become one of the most important players in the red and black jumper.
The former VFL-listed gun is enjoying a strong campaign, having moved into a more permanent midfield role.
Mattingly, 22, has racked up five best afield performances from 10 matches this year.
‘‘I have loved my time here, I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else,’’ he said.
‘‘I get on really well with the group and having both Paulo (Paul Newman) and Sam (Sheldon) as coaches is great.
‘‘Sam, even without the official name, acted like a sort of co-coach last season, a bit like most of the senior players out on the field.
‘‘He has stepped into the role really nicely and has transitioned in with no hiccups.’’
But that has not been the case for the silky midfielder after missing a fortnight of action.
A minor hamstring injury in the opening round against Tatura forced Mattingly out for two weeks, which he conceded was frustrating after a long pre-season.
‘‘To do a whole pre-season and then do a minor hammy, which sets you back a couple of weeks, was pretty frustrating,’’ he said.
‘‘But I was able to watch from the sidelines and I noticed how impressive our pressure has become this year.
‘‘We lacked pressure in the forward half and we’ve brought in a couple of young guys like Joshy Dillon, who have really brought that this season.’’
It is easy to be caught up with the heroes of Kyabram.
The Bombers have a wealth of stars across the field, but Mattingly’s brief stint in the stands allowed him to appreciate the development of the side’s young up-and-comers.
‘‘The progression of the younger guys like Josh, Zac (Norris) in the ruck and Brad (Whitford) in the midfield really stood out,’’ he said.
‘‘A lot of people probably didn’t take into account those younger guys when they assessed our season.
‘‘Just to sit on the sidelines you can see the progression of those players and the side overall — it’s pretty exciting.’’
Away from the club, Mattingly has continued to catch the eye of representative squad selectors.
He was a member of this year’s GVL interleague win against Western Region in May, following on from his interleague selection last year.
Tomorrow afternoon, he will represent Victoria Country for a second straight year, in the one-off match against the Victorian Amateur Football Association.
‘‘It’s always good to train and play with the best in the league,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m always willing to put my hand up to play.
‘‘Because you get to play against blokes that you whack into during the season.
‘‘But then you get to know them on a more personal level, which you might not be able to do without playing that footy.
‘‘Hopefully the opportunities can continue.’’
Tomorrow’s Brian Molony Cup will be played at Ikon Park, beginning at 1pm.