Corey Brown says Brisbane Roar's decision to keep training for a month after the completion of the last Hyundai A-League season is behind their steelier edge in the 2016/17 Season.
While most clubs and players went on holidays after May’s Hyundai A-League grand final, coach John Aloisi worked his Roar squad for another four weeks.
After conceding three goals or more in seven matches last season – including the heart-breaking 5-4 Final Series loss to Western Sydney Wanderers – the focus was on strengthening Roar's defensive nous.
And it appears to have worked with Roar conceding just eight goals from the first seven games, with only league-leaders Sydney FC (three) having a better record.
“Staying back and training for that month after the season we were able to work on our overall defensive shape but also our one-on-one defence,” Brown told www.a-league.com.au on Wednesday.
“It was great for us as defenders and I know it really helped my game.
“I learned a lot about how to defend against my winger and ways I can win my individual battle. It’s made me a better player and as a unit we’re defending a lot better as well.
“It’s all about staying concentrated because most of the battle as a defender is not switching off because that’s when you get punished.
“I’m sure a few of the boys probably would have preferred to be on holiday but we stayed back and it’s paying off now.”
The 4-0 defeat to Newcastle Jets aside, Roar have been ultra-consistent over the first seven weeks.
Aloisi’s troops have won three, drawn three and suffered just the one defeat to sit in third spot on the ladder.
They are also the only side to have taken points off league-leaders Sydney FC after Saturday night’s pulsating 1-1 draw at Suncorp Stadium.
Roar now takes on the other side in Sydney this week with a clash against a desperate Western Sydney Wanderers at Spotless Stadium on Friday night.
The last time these two sides met was in that epic last season, as Roar squandered a three-goal lead to lose 5-4 after extra-time.
“I don’t think I will ever forget what happened on that night, it’s still pretty fresh,” Brown admitted.
“It’s hard to believe we didn’t win that game…it hurt a lot. It was just a crazy game.
“We’re not going down there for revenge or anything like that because it’s a new season and there’s new players but it I’d say would be on the minds of a few of us.
“We haven’t really spoken about it as a team, it last season but if we do play them in the finals again we might be able to get some revenge.”
While Roar is in strong form, the Wanderers are struggling without a win in five and yet to taste success at their new home ground Spotless Stadium.
“[Pirtek] was such a tough place to play at and the fans made it a pretty hostile place. Maybe them being a bit further away from you makes a difference, I’m not too sure,” Brown said.
“But it’s our first game there too so I’m not sure it will make that much of a difference.“It’s just important for us to keep playing good football and improving our performances because if we do that I’m confident we’ll win any game.”