STEADY: Hamilton’s former Kiwi star Leo Bertos. Picture: Sproule Sports Focus
MARQUEE menLeo Bertos and Daniel McBreenwant to give their teammore, starting with thetop of the table NPLclash between Hamilton and Edgeworth at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Friday night.
McBreen returns for Edgeworth in the 7.15pm game after missing their past two, while Bertos will again feature for leaders Olympic.
Bertos, 34, a 2010 World Cup player for New Zealand, rated his debut NPL campaignso faras “steady”.
“It’s taken a bit to adjust and get back out there,” he said.“I still haven’t hit my straps and I don’t feel like my match fitness is 100 per cent.These old legs are taking a bit longer to get sharper, but I’m getting there.”
McBreen, 39, the 2012-13A-League golden boot,was also looking for more.
“It’s been OK,” McBreen said.“I think I can do more, but that’s football. Sometimes you’re harder on yourself, but I think I can give more to the team.”
Like Bertos,McBreen is coaching in the Emerging Jets program and said the commitments have been a factor. Eagles coach Damian Zane said McBreen would return in place of Dylan Holz. Daniel Minors would come in for the suspended Lachlan Pasquale.
“It’s been difficult to get to training because of the coaching I do myself, but I’ve told Zaney I want to do more work to get myself into what I feel is better fitness,” McBreen said.
“Hopefully we can work on that and I can feel better in myself on the pitch.”
For Hamilton, coach Michael Bolch said Tommy Spencer or Pat Brown would come in for the suspended Simon Mooney.
Meanwhile, Bertos said he was“just enjoying being part of the team. There’s been a few positional and role changes to adjust to as well, but all in all, I’mgoing OK.
“I’ve enjoyed my time so far.Not just on the field either. I’ve made good friends there and there are people at the clubI knew already.”
Bertos and McBreen crossed paths many times in the long careers in the A-League and have also completed C and B Licence coaching courses together recently.
Both were keen to get bragging rights on Friday night.
“The banter hasn’t started yet,”Bertos said. “I’ve been waiting for a message to pop up on my phone. I might have to send one and get it rolling.
“He had a hamstring niggle a couple of weeks ago, but I’m sure he’ll be right. He’s probably been saving himself for this one anyway.”
McBreen said: “We work together at the Jets, so there will be some banter and bragging rights.
“We’ve both been busy this week but I’m sure there’ll be some messages tonight of tomorrow.
“I’mlooking forward to giving him a kick,” McBreen laughed.
An Edgeworth junior, McBreen expected an intense contest against Olympic in the Northern NSW National Premier League grand final rematch. Both are unbeaten and on 10 points after four rounds.
“Back when I played at Edgy all those years ago, Hamilton were a big rival because they were doing so well at the time, so it’s a bit of the old derby again,” McBreen said.
“I’m looking forward to it, especially now with Leo there.
“You always want to play in the bigger games, no matter what league you’re in.
“At the moment, we’re both top of the table, so it should be good and I’m sure there might be some spice in it, with both teams fighting for that top spot.”
Bertos was new to the rivalry but said Olympic were up for the contest.
“It’s a big game and all the boys are excited for it,” he said.
“Just to test ourselves against the best, and see how we’re going ourselves,to see if we’re on that level, and then there’s that carrot of going top of the table.
“These are the games you want to play in, where it’s top of the table or there’s a good rivalry, it brings the best out of you.”
BACK: Daniel McBreen will lead the Eagles attack. Picture: Sproule Sports Focus