Loving the challenge

On the attack: Declan Smith against Sunshine Coast. Now his priorities are stopping, rather than scoring goals.

Declan Smith is our footballing poacher turned gamekeeper – and he’s loving it.


In fact, ask the striker-turned-defender if he’d now rather score a winning goal or keep a clean sheet and the response is instant: “Clean sheet!”


Hopefully, that will come tomorrow when Jets, fifth on the NPL ladder face Gold Coast United, who are ninth, at Wolter Park, kick-off 3pm.


It’s a far cry from mid-August. Declan, the striker, had just scored twice against Capalaba (for the second time in the month) when he was asked to go back into defence.


“I do miss scoring goals,” he admitted, “when we have corners I’m pretty eager to get up there and get among it. But I’m really enjoying playing at the back.


“Now I want a clean sheet. (Goalkeeper) Denver (Crickmore) and I have been talking about it for a while. I definitely think we need a clean sheet!”


Declan’s switch was born of necessity after team-mate and central defender Rhys Gwynn-Jones was injured.


“Royce just asked me to go into defence,” said Declan, who spent much of his junior career at the back, switched to midfield and then ex-Jets' coach Adam Piddick moved him up front.


“I wasn’t fazed by it (playing in defence). I’m really enjoying the challenge. It’s a different challenge and sparks a bit of motivation.

On the defence - Declan battling for possession

“I think it helps having played up front. You know, or think you know, what strikers might do going forward and can read the game a bit better.


“Of course, there’s pressure, but it’s a different kind of pressure to playing up front. There, the pressure is to score. At the back the pressure is you’re the last line of defence!”


Declan said he’s not the only one making changes. “Across the board, the whole team has been so versatile this season,” he said.


“If anyone is asked to do a job for the team they will. I think that is definitely Royce’s message, if you’ve got a job to go, you do it.”


Jets’ are still aiming for the top four, though four-placed Gold Coast Knights’ successive victories (the latter at Gold Coast United on Wednesday) have stretched the gap to 11 points.


After tomorrow’s match Jets are away to East on October 31, 7.30pm, then home to Brisbane City on November 7, 6pm and finish at home to Brisbane Roar U21 on November 15, 5pm.


Jets’ Under 20s are at home to Gold Coast United Under 20s at 1pm on Sunday after Jets’ Under 18s take on Gold Coast at 11am, both in Phase 2 fixtures.

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