Knight and Maltby Stick With Strikers

Dec 07, 2017 by

Formidable fullback Sam Knight and highly promising young attacker Zac Maltby are the latest players to commit themselves to the Brisbane Strikers senior squad for the 2018 NPL Queensland season.

Knight, 29, has re-signed for his fourth season with the club he first joined in 2015 and has been accompanied into the senior squad by Maltby, 18, who will be having his first season in senior football after working his way through the Strikers’ junior ranks since his Under-14s year.

Strikers football manager David Large said he was thrilled to welcome back Knight (pictured), who has been an integral part of a Strikers backline that has been the best in the league over the past few seasons.

“Sam was a player that, when we played against him when he was at Sunshine Coast Fire, was always a thorn in our side. I just saw him as something that we really needed at the club as a defender – just for his tenacity and work rate,” said Large.

“It’s history now that, in the three years that he’s been at the club he’s been signed, sealed and delivered and, if I’m being fair to him, he’s actually got better. He’s an absolutely accomplished player that is one of the first ones picked in our team now.

“When he came to us he was a defender. He’s now a footballer. For me, it’s a no-brainer with Sammy. I just hope that he decides to finish his playing career with the Brisbane Strikers, rather than us worrying about what he’s doing next year.”

Knight is one of several Sunshine Coast-based players in Strikers’ senior squad who continues to endure the rigours of the drive down the Bruce Highway to training three times a week, plus game days.

“It’s just a great group of lads,” said Knight when asked what keeps him coming back to Perry Park.

“There’s obviously the core group that’s been there for three or four years now, but even the new boys that have come in have just gelled so well – not just playing-wise, but their personalities as well.

“Also it’s an attractive club to come to in terms of the setup and the organisation and the way that they treat their players and staff and everyone. It’s a very professional and very welcoming club. It’s easy to keep coming back every year”.

Knight said he had relished the opportunity to become a more attacking fullback over the past few seasons.

“It’s the way we’ve been asked to play – we don’t really play with wingers,” he said. “Our width comes from our fullbacks so it’s expected of us that when we break forward we are to provide that width. So I guess you could say it’s become a lot more frequent in my game.

“I’d normally thought of myself as more of a defensive-minded fullback but it gets a bit boring back there if you’re restricted and can’t go forward.

“I think it suits us quite well, too, with our fullbacks providing the width. We’ve got a lot of creative players in midfield, with Jake McLean and Michael Lee, and it gives them a chance to get on the ball in the spaces where they are going to hurt defences.”

Maltby, 18, has been carefully guided by Large and his coaching staff during his five years with the club in a bid to stretch and toughen the technically gifted youngster through the demands of playing against older boys.

Large said this was now paying off for a player who took out the club’s Golden Boot award in his Under-18s year and who he regards as an ideal ‘number ten’ with the ability to also play as a centre forward.

“Zac has been a project for this club for quite a while now,” said Large. “Physically, in his earlier years, he was challenged but he’s become a young man now and he’s ready.

“I think he showed that towards the end of last season, and he is ready to be on the big stage. He’s a very, very exciting prospect for our club for years to come and I think he’s one of those that will become a crowd favourite.

“I’m absolutely rapt and thrilled that he’s agreed to come to us for next year after having quite a few clubs chasing him. He’s stuck by us and that club loyalty is something we’ve been very fortunate to get from him.

“I hope that all the patience that he’s shown and the frustration that he’s had will be rewarded next year”.

Maltby said he was surprised to find himself contemplating senior football within months but looking forward immensely to it.

“I’m definitely excited to see what I can do next year,” he said, adding that spending some of his junior football years playing against older and bigger boys had steeled him for the challenge ahead – not just physically, but also mentally.

“I definitely had plenty of name-calling and things said. You have to make sure they don’t put you down – make sure it doesn’t get into your head,” Maltby said.

“I think I’m one hundred percent ready. You’ve just got to be certain to be the best player you can”.

Photo: Michele Pitman

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