Rudan: Hyundai A-League on the rise

Experienced defender Mark Rudan left the Hyundai A-League wearing blue and returned two years later sporting red but admits the changes to the local competition extend beyond his own wardrobe choice.

Experienced defender Mark Rudan left the Hyundai A-League wearing blue and returned two years later sporting red but admits the changes to the local competition extend beyond his own wardrobe choice.

The former Sydney FC captain, now Adelaide United player, says during his time abroad the league has become 'smarter', diverse and more beneficial for players looking to develop their game and further their careers.

Rudan said he was pleased the league had been able to attract more quality professionals to Australia.

"What I've seen now, as opposed to a couple of years ago when I was last here, is the fact the players the clubs have been able to attract has increased," he said.

"In those first couple of years you would've never have seen someone like Jason Culina return to the league at his age and playing where he's played."

"Having spoken to Jason a couple of weeks ago he's surprised with the quality of the league and it's obviously not an easy league to play in."

"We've seen a few more of the boys come back at the same time and I think that will be a snowball effect from now on."

The 34-year-old also believes the teams are being more selective with their recruiting.

"I think what the clubs have done is learn from their mistakes. There has been some ordinary players who have come of a good stature and players who've done really well in their careers but have come at the back end (of their careers)," he said.

"The league was harder than they thought it would be and have fallen flat on their face because of it."

"The coaches and the clubs have really smartened up in that respect and have really sort of done their homework and sought references of players coming to the league now."

After playing only two games in the opening five rounds, Rudan said he was reluctant to make a judgement on the improved quality of the competition until later in the season.

But he said the competition's longer format, to incorporate games involving the two new franchises, was a benefit to the Hyundai A-League.

"Importantly for the players it extends the league to 27 games plus the finals which is extremely important and that's probably one of the reasons why I left, because of the amount of off-season that we had, it wasn't good for a lot of players, it wasn't good for me anyway," Rudan said.

"I think the increasing number of matches played will only benefit the players, especially the younger ones looking to improve."

"21 games just wasn't enough, especially for a young player who wants to get into good habits and wants to improve themselves as a player."

The Hyundai A-League may have evolved in his absence but Rudan believes he's improved his own game during his time away from Australia.

In his latest stint overseas he played in with J-League club Avispa Fukuoka and then FC Vaduz in Switzerland's Axpo Super League.

Rudan said his time in Japan was a 'fantastic experience'.

"I really wish I had the opportunity to go to Japan when I was much younger because the amount of training sessions and their attention to detail is second to none," he recalled.

"There are a lot of sessions on the park and a lot of sessions off the park where you are analysing your own performance, your own team's performance, the opposition, it's just a fantastic place to work and improve as a footballer."

The time in Switzerland was tougher but still beneficial.

"Again that was an eye-opener probably for different reasons. We were a young side and probably weren't up to scratch but again you learn a lot about yourself and the game."

Rudan is set to be the lynchpin in the Adelaide United's defence this season but made a bumpy start with his debut game against North Queensland back in Round 4.

Several months between games took its toll on the normally composed defender who turned the ball over twice in the first half and nearly gifted the Fury two goals. His performances are improving however and he's looking forward to putting his initial mistakes behind him.

"I don't know what I put that down to but at the end of the day I was woeful, simple as that," he said.

"I don't try to dwell on it too much but it is in the back of my head that I do set myself high standards and the only way to make amends is to go out on the paddock and really work hard and make sure those things don't happen again."

Rudan said the understanding between the Reds' defensive group was growing with every game but added it would take some time to bond further, especially given the team has struggled with injuries and suspension in the earlier stages of the year.

He also added there was plenty of time for his team to move up the ladder.

"I don't think you'll see Adelaide hit their straps for another few rounds."