Brayden Fiorini is on schedule to become a Suns gun


“They call me ‘Pyley’ every now and again,” Fiorini said.

“If they have a question about the schedule or the planner they will come to me first.

“I should know everything but if I don’t know, they are into me.”

Of course, being organised is a healthy attribute for an on-baller trying to make his way in the AFL in a non-traditional state, far removed from his Collingwood-mad family back in Research in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

It helped Fiorini put on seven or eight kilograms when he arrived at the club via pick No.20 in the 2015 national draft as a skinny midfielder who could win the ball inside and outside the contest.

“It wasn’t so much a diet as a licence to eat anything and put on a lot of weight,” Fiorini said.

“I would get in the weights room four or five times a week and have a lot of protein shakes.

“I don’t have that privilege any more. I have to watch my weight a little bit now that I have I reached the weight I want.”

Dedication to his rehabilitation helped him overcome a ruptured lateral collateral ligament in his right knee during his first season, which saw him miss half of 2016 before showing enough form late in the season to make his debut in round 22.

Fiorini’s desire to get better extended to him picking the brains of Hawthorn champion Shaun Burgoyne and Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury over coffee last season, their tips helping him fine tune his preparation.

“I have a strict criteria during the week that I have to tick off,” Fiorini said.

This might include an extra swim, a commitment to ticking off recovery protocols, a visit to the beach as well as time switching off from football to help him recover mentally.

That final point is an important characteristic of Fiorini, who studies business on the Gold Coast, as he was thrown in the deep end of independent living soon after being drafted.

Fiorini is the youngest of five boys with older brothers Dillon, Robbie, Josh and Frank watching his progress with interest along with parents Vicki and Sam.

“The first year was definitely tough. I am close to my family and was 18 years of age and had mum doing everything for me at home so it was a bit of a wake-up call,” Fiorini said.

“It took me a year to settle in but my partner Molly moved in after I’d been here about a year and I would say ever since she moved up I felt more comfortable and more at home.”

The pair now live at Broadbeach and Fiorini has not missed a game in 2019, the 20-year-old expected to play a key role for the Suns on Saturday if they can break their run of losses against St Kilda in Townsville.

Fiorini says progress is being made at the club and his faith in the future was part of the reason he signed a two year extension midway through last year tying him to the club until the end of 2020.

“If you compare us to the last few years it feels like we have come a long way,” Fiorini said.

“We are really strong on role clarity this year and just simplifying things and wanting to play our brand for longer.

“We’re building a little bit but there is a long way to go.”

Having grown up surrounded by football it took Fiorini time to get used to the lack of coverage up north in comparison to Victoria.

“It was a shock early on with the news at night and the local papers. There is not much at all, maybe one page, two pages maximum,” Fiorini said.

“When you go down to Melbourne to visit the family it’s 10 pages worth so it was definitely a shock early.”

But now, as he becomes one of the best performed young midfielders in the competition, he sees not being recognised in either Queensland or Victoria as a positive.

“I enjoy it, can go down the local store or local cafe and not get hassled at all,” Fiorini said.

“I don’t mind that at all … flying under the radar.”

Anonymity shouldn’t worry Fiorini. He’s right on schedule to becoming a fine player.

Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.

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