Zac Anderson might have been expected to make a splash at the Mariners a bit sooner, but the talented defender is ready to grasp his chance with both hands.
In many ways coming to the stability of the Mariners from the uncertainty and the wreckage of Gold Coast United has been great for Zac Anderson, but it-s also been tough at times.
A shoulder injury severely hampered his pre-season and set him back as he fought for a place in Graham Arnold-s side. Many thought he might pick up the spot vacated by former skipper Alex Wilkinson, especially after the form he displayed for Gold Coast United, but it went to Trent Sainsbury, that had to be tough.
Anderson though, says he never expected to be a starter when he first signed on with Graham Arnold-s team though.
“Towards the back end of last season I strung nine-ten games together and it was nice to get that first team football. I felt I grew as a footballer, just getting that week-in-week-out football,” Anderson said.
“Coming here I knew it would be tough, Trent (Sainsbury) has really stepped up and taken his chance, but I came here not thinking I was going to start, because I knew Patrick Zwaanswijk was there and Alex Wilkinson was at the time as well.
“I thought the move was a good opportunity for me to learn from some experienced centre halves. There was an opportunity there and I unfortunately had a tough pre-season with a shoulder injury, but I worked really hard and got myself back into a position where I was challenging for a spot.
“And Arnie showed a lot of faith in me by throwing me back in there after not a lot of football in the pre-season.”
With the fractured pre-season behind him, Anderson has been training well and become a permanent fixture, albeit from the bench.
His 30 minutes against the Victory were quality, not he has to face the fire of a familiar foe in Brisbane Roar in his full debut, but he has to do so as part of one of the youngest central defensive pairings the Hyundai A-League has ever seen.
It-s nothing new to Anderson though; he-s been in young backlines before and believes he and Sainsbury are capable of getting the job done this weekend against a Roar side, who might just be finding their feet.
Not that Anderson thinks it will be an issue, even though he concedes the loss of Zwaanswijk for the week is a big one.
“Patrick is one of the reasons I came to the club, he has had a fantastic career,” Anderson said.
“Trent and I try and learn as much as we can from a player like Zwanny, and this week it will be tough without him, but that means it-s time for me to step up and hopefully I can take my chance.”
“Last week it was nice to get that half hour and it was tough with ten men, but if I get a chance this week I think that would have really helped me to play my own game this week and I think Trent and I work well together, hopefully we get the three points for the Mariners.”
Getting three points is of course easier said than done. The Roar have had the wood on the Mariners in recent times and Anderson is aware he couldn-t be making his full debut in a bigger fixture, but he knows the Roar well and is actually looking forward to renewing hostilities with Besart Berisha.
“There is a great rivalry between the Mariners and the Roar. The Grand Final experience of two years ago lives in the blood of all the players, they don-t like to talk about it, but there is a bit of feeling there and this weekend Brisbane will come here with high hopes of getting three points.
“And so they should, they have a good record here, but if we play to our strengths we know we can get the three points this weekend.”
Of course with Berisha back, the Roar have looked more dangerous, and he promptly netted against Sydney FC last week, Anderson though remains unconcerned, insisting the secret is to watch him closely.
“He-s a tough player, but he-s also one of my favourite players to play against, he is unpredictable and hangs off your shoulder and is always trying to get in behind you. I really enjoy rhe personal battles against Berisha.
“He doesn-t talk to you too much, he concentrates for the 90 minutes, you have to be on your game for the full 90, Sains and I have to make sure we-re switched on for the 90 minutes.”
With all the hoopla surrounding David Beckham and the Mariners alleged bid for him it-s easy to forget one more youngster on Graham Arnold-s production line is getting a big opportunity this weekend, but Anderson himself doesn-t mind one bit.
“He-s one of my childhood heroes, I love David Beckham, it would be absolutely fantastic to have him here. And the Central Coast deserves a player of his stature at Bluetongue, but I-ll leave that decision up to the administration.”