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ALM: Jets star Mauragis has eyes on the big prize

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A recent call-up to the Olyroos has primed Lucas Mauragis to take his game to the next level, much to the delight of the Newcastle Jets.

The 22-year-old, who’s been in sensational form in the A-League Men’s (ALM) competition, joined team-mate Mark Natta in the national squad for its friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Qatar during the November international window.

It also served as groundwork for the upcoming AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024, which the young defender hopes to be a part of.

Lucas Mauragis in full flight for the Newcastle Jets. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

“Yeah, it’s been a pretty positive start to the 2023/24 season,” he said.

“There are always things to work on, but I’m reasonably happy so far and determined to keep developing my game.

“It was good to go to a camp like that.

“You’re among players who are the best in my age group, so it’s great to learn off them as well as the guys who returned from overseas.

“I believe you come away better for the experience.

“We beat Qatar 2-1 in the first game, which I played, and Saudi Arabia 3-1 in the second.

“While you don’t receive too much feedback from the coaches, playing a friendly, you get to work as a team and individually, so it’s good preparation for the qualifiers down the track.

“That’s the motivation, to make that Australian side.

“You want to play your best football to be selected for something like that (U23 Asian Cup).”

Lucas Mauragis has the football world at his feet. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

One setback, however was Newcastle’s 3-1 loss to F3 derby rivals Central Coast Mariners at the weekend.

Despite a sluggish start, the Jets only trailed 1-0 at the break, but their rivals hung tough to come away with the points.

“That defeat was frustrating,” Mauragis said.

“We had a lot to play for.

“Obviously, it’s not great to lose the derby… we, the players, need to take responsibility for our performance, not let Rob (Stanton) cop all the blame.

“However, we’ll move on to this week’s game against Melbourne City.

“It’ll be nice to play at McDonald Jones Stadium again.

“It has been quite hectic for us playing most of our matches on the road.

“So, it’ll be good to have the home-ground advantage for a change.”

Melbourne sits below Newcastle on the ladder, but Mauragis admitted that meant nothing ahead of Sunday’s clash on 3 December.

“We know their best football could be just around the corner,” he said.

“Every game we go into, we’ve got to expect that the other team’s going to come out firing.

“We’ll just prepare for this match better than last week.

“All the players know what we need to do, so we’ll work on that.

“We’ll just concentrate on our own performance, not theirs.

“I think they should worry about us more than us worrying about them.

“Honestly, I feel like there’s something really good brewing here.

“We enjoyed positive results in the pre-season and I believe they’ll come our way very soon.”

Newcastle Jets star Lucas Mauragis enjoyed a recent all-up to the Olyroos. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

The Jets also welcomed the return of striker Archie Goodwin in their previous outing.

And, he did not disappoint either, scoring a brilliant individual goal with his second touch.

“It was great to see him back on the paddock,” Mauragis told the Newcastle Weekly.

“He’s worked hard every day to get that opportunity again.

“I imagine it’s been pretty tough for him, managing his injuries.

“So, for Archie to come on and score a goal almost immediately, I couldn’t be happier for him.

“You can see from the team that we’ll never back down or give up.

“But, Archie provided that spark and lifted all the players.

“The result could have been different in the end if one or two things went our way.”

After moving to Newcastle following high school, Mauragis made his debut for the Jets at the end of the 2019/20 season.

The South Coast junior then chalked up a dozen or so appearances before joining the Wellington Phoenix, on loan, for 2022/23.

It was a change that did him the world of good.

“Playing for Wellington, I really feel I grew as a player,” he said.

“I got a lot of opportunity and plenty of game time.

“I think I’ve definitely come back a more experienced player.”

The Jets-City encounter kicks off at 5pm.

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