By Beth Newman
Grange’s Mat Stevens is a man of his word.
Originally from Echuca, Stevens played U18s in Bundaberg, before a promise to a mate saw him head across the Nullarbor to play in Perth.
“I had a deal with a mate that if we won the grand final over here, I had to go and play for a season over there,” he said.
“And we did, so I was true to my word.”
It was footy that ultimately brought him to Brisbane, first to the Magpies, and then to the Gorillas, where he says he’s likely to stay.
“Wilston Grange is one of the best clubs I’ve ever played at,” he said.
“The bunch of blokes is just amazing.”
While a rib injury stalled his start to the season, Stevens is well and truly back in business, after another sensational performance for the Gorillas in Round 15.
Stevens, who missed three games after injuring his ribs in Grange’s Rd 1 clash with Noosa, has not missed a beat since returning in Round four, quickly becoming one of the side’s most important players.
The 27 year-old might be overshadowed by big names like Steve Brittain and David Tough, but his contribution is certainly not to be undervalued.
Stevens has kicked goals in eight of his 12 senior matches this year, and has been named in his side’s best in half of his senior appearances.
While he has had an obviously super year, kicking four again in Grange’s must-win against Grange on Saturday, you certainly wouldn’t know it from talking to him.
Speaking after their clash with the tigers, Stevens was reluctant to acknowledge his strong performance.
“I don’t really rate my own game. It was just an absolute team performance,” he said.
“As a team, we’ve battled hard throughout the midseason.
“We lost those four in a row and it was really hard for us, just trying to back up each week.
“So, it’s just good to be where we’re at and it’s good to be playing finals.”
After his early injury setback, Stevens said he was feeling good coming into the right end of the season, and said the side believed they had the goods on Saturday and heading into finals.
“At the tail end of the season, I’m happy with where I’m at,” he said.
“We didn’t want to end our season today.
“We’re building and finals is still four games. We can build on what we did today and boys back on the field, we can work on that.
After four years at the Gorillas, Stevens said it would mean a lot to him to be able to take the next step in finals.