Duncan: Team still firing despite COVID-forced break

It feels like an eternity since our Isuzu UTE A-League side last stepped out on the pitch.

Actually though, it’s only been just under a month, but distance makes the heart grow fonder and excitement is building for when our team take to the field again which hopefully will be this Saturday in a huge F3 Derby clash against the Mariners.

Our Jets haven’t featured on the A-League field, but have still been playing plenty of football through intraclub matches and after missing three straight games from COVID postponements, you can bet the players have been giving their all each session.

Goalkeeper Jack Duncan echoed those thoughts and even suggested that after multiple high-intensity sessions, the team may actually come out fitter than before.

“We’ve been playing lots of in-house games and those have been of really high quality,” Duncan said. “There’s no defining starting XI so any game we play amongst ourselves is a really good standard.

“We haven’t taken our foot off the pedal at all…We’ve been training really hard. We haven’t taken a day off.

“We’ve made sure we’ve been hitting our targets and numbers from our GPS data that the coaches want us to hit. I don’t think we would have lost any fitness, in fact, we might have gained a bit.”

There’s no denying that recent postponements have been disruptive and frustrating, especially with some games being voided the day before kick-off.

Regardless, Duncan admitted the team are only focusing on what they can control, and they’re looking towards this weekend’s derby as a fresh start after a lengthy break.

“It almost feels like we’re going back to the start of the season,” he said.

“It’s frustrating because we were starting to get in a bit of a rhythm in our games which we probably needed after a pre-season where we couldn’t travel or play other A-League teams.

“Most of the weeks, we’ve prepared as usual as if we’re going to play. We’ve just tried to make up games and fitness where we can.”

Due to the high volume of cases in the Hunter Region, Duncan and the rest of the squad have been limiting their contact with the community, and once again returned to a sort-off ‘bubble life’.

While the situation hasn’t proven to be ideal, the veteran keeper can see positives.

“We’re enjoying each other’s company,” he said.

“We’re doing everything we can to not catch it ourselves. We’ve been minimising our contact with the outside world, and be in our own little bubble as much as we can.

“Hopefully there won’t be any more postponements.”

The Mariners displayed a gritty performance last time out in Round One, taking home a 2-1 win at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Since then, the side has progressed and developed and further showcased some top performances against top sides.

Having played a few more matches with one another since that opening match, Duncan was confident the side would be much improved and could continue to advance together and make a really special season.

“We reflected on that game straight away,” he said of the Round One loss.

“With so many new players coming in, and lots of changes, it was probably going to take us a couple of weeks to really thrive in those performances.

“I think the biggest thing for me is the competition for spots. We’ve got no defined starting XI, everyone is pushing each other every week. It was similar to a couple of years ago when we made that Grand Final.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the boys that have come in.”