We get deep and intimate with Matt as he shares his footy journey and how PREPD has fit into it over the years.
Tell us about the historic season in 2016 that set Hahndorf up for continued success?
Well, to put it simply, in 2016 Hahndorf won every grade where there was a premiership available. We took home the premiership in the under 16s and 18s, C grade, B grade and A grade. All juniors from that winning year have now moved up into our senior teams and our A grade is made up of 18 club juniors and only three import players, which we are pretty proud of and just shows what a really solid junior program can do for your club.
With so many great clubs out there, what makes Hahndorf so special?
I think what makes us stand apart in the hills, and even the big division one teams down in the Adelaide Footy League, is our tight-nit community where everyone chips in and helps out. It’s not just left up to the volunteers to do everything, players always helping out with the cleaning, BBQ, canteen and picking up bottles. You’ll often see big names like Kyle Cheney sticking around and doing dishes after dinner on a Thursday night and is a testament to the genuine care and love our players have for the club.
Tell us a bit about your journey to getting drafted to the Adelaide Crows in the AFL.
I grew here playing for Hahndorf, but I then went off to play 17s at Sturt when I was 13. Before long I was playing in the Sturt Reserves and we won the grand final in 2008. I also then went on to play in the league 09′ grand final against Centrals, which we unfortunately lost but I got to play with some amazing players like Grant Chambers, Jade Sheedy, Jack Trengove and Brad Vassel to name a few. I was then drafted into the Crows squad that year and so it all began.
You played 76 AFL games with the Crows, what brought you to the decision of leaving and coming back to play at Hahndorf?
To be completely transparent, I was really struggling with mental health, the death of Phil Walsh and trying to get through rehab on my knee after I tore my ACL, requiring a full reconstruction. Phil and I had a really good relationship, he was the hardest on me but still had genuinely cared which was something I loved and really responded well to. When I came out of my knee surgery he was the first one there in the morning, at the hospital, with coffee and donuts and not allowing me to feel sorry for myself but helping me stay positive and having a few jokes and laughs at the time. As a pretty out there guy I’d always struggled to connect with coaches but Phil understood my personality the most, what pushed my buttons and how to get the best out of me. So when he passed, it was hard.
Back in those days we didn’t have a lot of support during rehab and I spent most of my days swimming laps in the pool by myself trying to get my knee right, but in all that isolation I just knew something had to change. In the end I realised that the place I had the most fun and enjoyment was playing football at Hahndorf. After chatting with Dad, it was clear that for my overall health and happiness I needed to return home.
I’ve now played 102 A grade games for Hahndorf and won 97 of them, but its not just because of myself or any other individual players but the teams effort and all the work we put in together along with a great coach.
What does this Saturday look like for you and the team?
It’s actually my birthday on Saturday, so a premiership would be a pretty great present! I just really hope we can all play at our best. As a team, we have a habit of clicking on Grand Final day. As long as we play to our potential I feel confident we can take the win.
Daniel Roberts and Dylan Matsen are two of our best big game players, with Dylan winning 3 best on grounds in the past few grand finals, the team will be focusing on following their lead, sticking the game plan and hopefully coming out with a flag on the other side.
You were at the Crows in 2014 when we did the initial trial. What did you initially think about the product back then and what would you say to anyone who asked you about PREPD now?
Most of us are creatures of habit, it’s always hard to get our heads around something new. While the taste wasn’t offensive in the trial phase, the texture just wasn’t good at all. It’s not something I would have been able to consume religiously like Powerade, but since then the product has come a long way and I actually really like the flavour a lot better. These days I stay away from sugary drinks like Powerade and Gatorade. I’ve never been a big cramper but it’s definitely helped me with fatigue on the back end of games and recovering afterwards.
PREPD has improved my mental edge making me feel much more prepared, knowing I have done all the training and the preseason, but also know I’ve fuelled my body the right way, gives me the confidence to play at my best. I used to drink two Powerade’s in the morning before a game, but it would make me feel sick from all the sugar, whereas PREPD has a softer texture and the water I consume is absorbed more efficiently by my body as it sits in my gut better.
If you want to read a summary of the original Adelaide Crows study Matt Jaensch was involved in, click HERE.
Buddies and former Crows teammates Jared Petrenko and Kyle Cheney also play with Matt down at Hahndorf FC.