It was an unexpected question from his uncle Phil that made Brandon Matera stop and think.
If he retired today, after 119 games and 137 goals for Gold Coast and Fremantle, would the talented forward be happy with his career?
About to hit his prime – he turns 27 in March – and with two seasons left to run on his contract, Matera hadn’t ever considered his football mortality.
But his uncle – a brilliant small forward and five-time leading goalkicker at West Coast – was someone worth listening to, and his words have helped motivate Matera to change his diet and training habits this off-season.
“Obviously, dad (Wally) has been a massive influence on myself, and moving back home I see him quite a bit now, but Phil’s been a pretty big mentor for me in the last year, over the off-season and stuff,” Matera told AFL.com.au.
“We’ve had a few good talks. He’s obviously got great advice. It’s probably just more ‘if you retired today, would you be happy with your career?’
“Then just when you’re at the club, just really enjoy it. We’ve had some talks about other stuff as well that I won’t get into, but he’s been really good for me.”
Matera started his first season at Fremantle in reasonable form, booting seven goals in the first six games and averaging nearly 17 disposals.
But his troublesome foot – which ended his career-best campaign at the Suns in 2017 after 22 goals in 10 games – flared up, limiting his ability to train, and he was dropped twice.
While his performances weren’t rated solely on goals in an era where pressure is king, Matera finished the season in the WAFL with only 13 majors from 18 AFL appearances.
“I wasn’t real happy with my year last year,” he admitted.
“I had a few niggling injuries and stuff, so I’ve really knuckled down over the off-season, lost a couple of kilos and have come back quite a bit fitter into the Fremantle forward position role.
“I had to do a bit of work over the off-season.”
A self-confessed sweet tooth, Matera found cutting out sugar after dinner especially difficult to do, but the sacrifice has been worth it.
“I’m a sugar man, so (now I’m) just trying to cut back on the lollies and chocolate. I was pretty good over the off-season,” he said.
“You’ve got to reward yourself every now and then, which you still do, but it’s just watching what you eat during the week.”
After combining a closer eye on his diet with a tough running program over the break – and gruelling extra sessions off his own bat with a personal trainer – the former Sun has noticed a huge improvement in his fitness.
“I came (to Fremantle) off a foot injury and hadn’t really ran much over the off-season trying to rest that. It’s a massive difference in load coming into a pre-season,” Matera said.
“It was a lot more running than I probably would have done up at the Gold Coast, and then finding time to do a few extra sessions.
“One of my brother’s mates got me in and made me spew three or four times.”
Senior coach Ross Lyon has been impressed, and singled Matera out for praise for building the “running profile of a small forward” during the Dockers’ pre-Christmas camp on the Gold Coast.
Matera has played higher up the ground at Fremantle than he was used to in 101 games for the Suns, and admitted his conditioning let him down.
“Up on the Gold Coast I played a deeper role with Tom Lynch, but last year coming to Freo it was a different game style, different gameplan, so the high forwards were up higher and releasing back (to goal),” he said.
“That’s probably where my fitness gave way last year.
“So that’s what I really worked on over the break, those hard releases.”
At his best, the famed Matera skill and goal nous shines through in Brandon’s football.
However, the South Fremantle product has only managed more than 17 appearances twice in eight seasons, and injuries have been a source of frustration.
Getting through a whole campaign for the first time will be a goal for 2019, and he hopes a debut finals appearance might also be on the cards in September.
But for the time being he’s focused on not missing a pre-season session as he eyes a spot crumbing to boom forward-line recruits Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb.
“It’s definitely going to help; they’re two massive giants coming in,” Matera said.
“We had (Matt) Taberner last year and he missed half the season with an injury, but the way he started last year, I think it showed in our performance that when we’ve got the talls there bringing it to the front, it just helps us play better as a team and get more score on the board.
“The boys are training really well at the moment, the vibe is really good, it’s bubbly, and the sessions have been really good.
“If we can play as a group from the start of the year, I’m sure we’ll get the results on the board.
“Over the last three years this club has had a massive turnaround, so there’s a lot of new faces in here and it’s all about getting to know each other.
“I’m really hoping we can make the finals this year and I believe in the group we’ve got to get there.”
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs