A product of the Giants Academy, Narrandera boy Matt Flynn is a little disappointed to not be playing in the Giants’ Marsh Community clash against Richmond in Wagga Wagga on March 8.
With Robertson Oval only an hour from Narrandera, the game is the perfect chance for players like Flynn to catch up with his family and the community he grew up in.
“When we played in Narrandera the whole town was excited, so getting back to Wagga again will be awesome,” Flynn said. “There’s been a few NEAFL games there, but with the AFL boys being there it’ll be very special. I’m sure the community will get around them and they’ll be excited to have them.”
The 22-year-old isn’t worried about the time he’s spent sidelined with a knee injury, he’s worried about the time he wasted before the injury.
“When I did it initially, I thought not necessarily that it was the end of my footy but that I had wasted a lot of time,” Flynn said. “I was in my fourth year and I thought jeez, I’ve kind of thrown it all away.
“I had a good chat to some senior players, coaches and the APU (athletic performance unit) staff about what I was missing and what I needed to work on. That’s given me a lot of drive through the process and I’m doing my rehab to come back better, to work on my strengths as well as my weaknesses.”
When the 200cm Giant tore his ACL in a NEAFL match against the NT Thunder back in July last year, Flynn was close to an AFL call-up. He was in form, beating more experienced opponents in the ruck, taking contested marks and kicking goals.
Flynn wants to get back to that form; more so it’s clear he wants to make his long-awaited AFL debut more than ever.
“I think when I went down with the knee, I was in a really good position to push for a ruck spot that in the end Dawson (Simpson) and Mummy (Shane Mumford) took over,” he said. “The boys had an outstanding year to make the Grand Final and to lose in a disappointing way was a bitter end, but it was a great year for the club and the boys to have that experience.
“I saw how we struggled in certain aspects of that game that I think I can help with, like long down the line. That’s the focus for me, to add to my strengths, get my fitness right and add to that ruck spot when I get back.
“I’ll be pushing for it but obviously there’s a few blokes there in Mummy, Sauce (Sam Jacobs) and Briggsy (Kieren Briggs) at the moment but I’ll be pushing for that when I get back.”
The addition of Sam Jacobs during the 2019 Telstra Trade period has helped rather than hindered Flynn’s ambitions. The two have formed a bond, with Jacobs passing on his learnings from 201 AFL games to Flynn.
“I’m talking with him all the time and he talks to me about his body work, which is his go-to,” Flynn said. “It’s good to have someone who’s got a bit of knowledge, he’s very particular and he’s a bit of a footy nerd. He’s always talking to me about what he’s doing on the track and how to get better. He’s been outstanding for me.”
Flynn has also leaned on the experience of others during his time in the rehab group.
“When Jonny (Patton) was here, he came straight to me and said if you need any advice let me know, which was good for those first few months while he was still around the club,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with Wardy in rehab group, so we’ve become really close there and we’ve talked about experiences we’ve had, and I guess how we deal with it.
“With him being a senior player and the player that he has been throughout his career, he’s given me some extra motivation and support. Wardy’s been unbelievable for me.”