Matthew Hanson has given Werribee the perfect start to its bid to field a powerful standalone side by committing to the club for the 2018 season.
The newly crowned three-time Bruce Montgomery Trophy winner has been confirmed as the club’s first signing for next year on the back of his most impressive season yet, which saw him become just the second player to win three Werribee best-and-fairest awards.
Having long indicated a likely return to Avalon Airport Oval next year, Hanson said the decision to make things official was an easy one.
“It was a no-brainer, to be honest,” he said.
“After the support Werribee has given me and the opportunity to play at the VFL level three years ago, I can’t speak highly enough of the club.
“I’m just trying to repay the favour.”
Recruited from South Launceston ahead of the 2015 season, Hanson has played 53 games and kicked 34 goals in his three years at Werribee.
His immediate impact in his first year saw him rewarded with selection to the 2015 VFL Team of the Year and elevated to the Werribee leadership group for 2016.
He has gone on to become recognised as one of the VFL’s leading inside midfielders, earning a further two Team of the Year selections and selection to the 2016 and 2017 VFL State Teams.
This year also saw him achieve a career-best third-place finish in the JJ Liston Trophy count, polling 14 votes from his 18 games after leading the competition for contested possessions and tackles.
Werribee coach John Lamont also recommitted to the club for 2018 back in August and said he was thrilled his star charge had followed suit, though he admitted he would also like to see Hanson given a chance at the AFL level.
“It’s really pleasing,” said Lamont.
“He’s had a massive impact since he arrived from Tasmania. The key thing for me has been that his game has continued to improve. That says a lot.
“He’s taken feedback, absorbed it, and improved his game, and he was particularly good this year when we were under pressure.
“Part of me doesn’t want him to play with us, because it means an AFL club has given him an opportunity, which I think he thoroughly deserves.”
Lamont also said Hanson’s commitment to Werribee could help the club in its quest to secure more player signatures for its first season as a standalone VFL outfit.
“The returning players and the guys who have been here for two-plus years are really excited about the prospect of being our own club, so the signing of a popular member and triple best-and-fairest winner can only add to the enthusiasm,” he said.
“We’ll start having meaningful dialogue with the players about contracts for next year and start filling up the spots, but it’s a great start.”