Huke looking to impress

New Central Coast recruit Shane Huke says he is looking to impress during the Mariners' Asian Champions League to secure a full-time contract in the Hyundai A-League.

New Central Coast recruit Shane Huke says he is looking to impress during the Mariners' Asian Champions League to secure a full-time contract in the Hyundai A-League.

British born but with an Australian heritage Huke has been signed from English League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge to the Central Coast club until May 31, giving him six matches in the ACL to show his wares. He hopes it will be enough to convince the Mariners to extend his contract.

"(The Mariners) is a good option for me," Huke told Sportal.

"My agent knows a lot about them and I knew Aloisi and Vidmar played here so obviously it has to be a good standard if those guys are going to be playing."

"And in the last four years they have consistently been in the top four and they have picked up some silverware along the way so you can't ask for more than that."

"To be honest I was going to come back (to Australia) in June and try it out," admitted the attacking midfielder. "So when the opportunity came about they didn't have to ask me twice - I snapped their hand off and grabbed the opportunity."

"But my performances will decide whether I stay or not. I'd love to stay. I have only been here six weeks but I feel I am getting to know the boys better now and these trips away to Asia you get to spend time with them and they get to know you."

Huke, who left Australia in 2001 to play football in the UK said he has been impressed by the standard of play in the Hyundai A-League and said the game in Australia was light years from when he left our shores eight years ago.

"It is amazing, especially considering it has only been going four years," he said.

"I remember back in the day I went to a Strikers game at an unfinished Suncorp and there was only 1500 people at the game; to get crowds like 50-odd thousand at the final is unbelievable."

"If it keeps progressing this quickly a lot of people are going to catch onto it and it is going to become the game it deserves over here."

"It is good I am really enjoying it and the team is great," he said. "The standard of football is fantastic and I am playing in the Champions League so I can't ask for much more than that."

Huke played for 84 minutes in the Mariners 0-0 draw to open their ACL campaign last week and said he was happy with his and the team's performance.

"I felt we played well," he said. "I have played a few games with the team and we have let in a few bad goals and the performance wasn't there … but we managed to keep a clean sheet and put in a good performance and I feel like we could have won the game, but it is a great start."

"Personally I thought I did OK. I gave away a few stray balls at the end which could have been fatigue. But it is all going to come in the next few weeks over training and playing, so I can work on that."

"You never know if you are going to start a game and if you do it is fantastic but that is how you get your fitness, playing games and knuckling down and training hard."

While the 23-year-old said his main goal was to win a Hyundai A-League contract he admitted he had also set his sites on impressing national coach Pim Verbeek for a chance to muscle his way into the national squad.

"Definitely yeah. I missed out in the Under-20 level due to injury which was a bit of a heartbreak, so I am going to work my socks off and it is all down to me," he said.

"Obviously the man (Pim) has to pick the squad but if my performance ain't there I'm not going to get selected. But I'd love to represent Australia."

For the meantime Huke said he is settling into the Central Coast lifestyle nicely. He said he is enjoying the coaching style of Lawrie McKinna and he is living with Mariners media manager Ben 'Stats' Coonan, who he describes as 'nicest guy you will meet'.

Huke has also been warmed by the fact he is getting to spend more time with his Brisbane-based parents after almost a decade of separation.

"I am really enjoying it," Huke said. "At the moment as we speak I am spending some time in Terrigal with my family and there are not many places better than this. It is a great spot to relax and is just beautiful."

"They came down last week for the game and are going back tomorrow. I spent nine years away from them and missed a lot of things so it is now nice to be back and only be an hour's plane flight away."

Coonan actually alerted Sportal to the fact that Huke always enjoys a special culinary ritual leading up to game day.

"The day before the game I make a chicken with breadcrumbs, rosemary and a Dolmio sauce topped with cheese and I have a couple of them with pasta," explains Huke.

"On the day of the game I have a few poached eggs on toast, pasta for lunch and then I have the same chicken dish but with rice so it doesn't swell in my tummy during the game."