www.a-league.com.au caught up with Jets defender Nigel Boogaard to talk about life back in the Hunter, working with new boss Scott Miller and the club’s flash new playing strip.
The strip for the new season has been unveiled, what do you think?
We’re trying to have our own identity and break away from the mould of the old and I think it’s refreshing. It’s great to see some new local sponsors on board as well which is exciting. The alternate strip of the gold, going back to the glory days of past, I think the fans will be pleased and it’s looks good.
Had a few months under new boss Scott Miller, tell us about that?
He’s come in with a sense of urgency, a fresh approach and I think that’s what the place needed. With the majority of the squad changing over, the early days was about bonding, getting together and making sure we’re a unit and then building on the football from there. The results in pre-season, with the FFA Cup, weren’t exactly what we wanted but they were a step in the right direction.
Miller seems to have brought a real passion and energy to the joint?
And it rubs off at training and there’s and expectation and a drive there which filters through to the boys. It’s great to go to training every day and see that hunger and desire from the coaching staff and that’s what we need to bring as players.
What’s been the main focus since day one of pre-season?
Just making sure come Round One we’re ready. Regardless of [pre-season] results we need to make sure that come that first game we’re competitive, we all know our roles in defence and attack and we’re organised. No disrespect to what happened last year but we can’t let that happen again. That starts from Round One and if we start on the front foot, hopefully that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.”
You’re back in the Hunter where it all started, how you feeling about that?
Always throughout my career I’ve wanted to at least play a season here. To be given the opportunity to come back and play for my home town is massive. I don’t want it to be something I look back on as a regret. I probably put a little bit more pressure on myself to really do well individually but most importantly as a team. I want us to succeed. This town deserves to have a team in the top six and challenging for the title again like the early days of the A-League. If in some way I can help towards that and be part of a team that can achieve that I’ll be a happy man.”
You dad played for Newcastle as well back in the day so there’s a real family connection there too?
For sure. I’ve seen my father play around Newcastle, then I played all my juniors here as well. I know the football landscape around here and have a lot of friends and family involved in it. It does mean a lot to me to make sure we’re successful and people are proud of what we’re doing. “
How important is it for the club to get the local community behind the team again?
Of course. First and foremost we’re in professional sport and when the team is winning and doing well, that’s when you get bums on seats. It’s about us doing our job on the park but also off the park. Since pre-season we’ve been in the community a bit more, engaging and people around town have really seen the change in that.”
How confident are you that the talent is there to go from wooden-spoon last season to finals this campaign?
People we’re probably a little bit critical of the team last year and where they finished. But it was only a goal here or there in a lot of games and a result here or there and they would have been in a lot better shape on the table. It wasn’t all doom and gloom. But we want to be in the finals every year and competing at that level otherwise people aren’t happy. Our focus is on top six and be back in finals where the club belongs.