Western Pride coach Graham Harvey and captain Jesse Rigby with the 2017 NPL Queensland grand final trophy.
Western Pride coach Graham Harvey and captain Jesse Rigby with the 2017 NPL Queensland grand final trophy. Chris Simpson

Japanese experience eases football defeat pain

AMID his team's first disappointment of the new season, Western Pride captain Jesse Rigby quickly found something to improve his mood.

That was reflecting on the team's off-season trip to Japan after winning last year's NPL grand final.

Left to ponder Saturday night's 3-2 loss to Olympic, Rigby said the week-long trek was invaluable as he and his teammates launch into defending their NPL Queensland title.

"It was just a great experience,'' Rigby said of seeing how the Japanese teams operate.

"It's a very different way of playing football.

"They are so quick. Everything's really technical and I reckon they are just so much more advanced.''

Rigby said their workrate and how the Japanese players got into position resulted in their high standards of performance.

"They knock the ball around and it kind of gives you a benchmark where you are trying to get to,'' he said.

The carpenter said being NPL champions provided fresh challenges after returning from Japan.

"I think it's going to be a different learning curve for this team,'' he said. "We've got targets on our backs now.

"We'll take it on and just look positively.''

In his fourth season as Pride captain, Rigby typifies the exciting development work continuing at the Ipswich NPL club.

Rigby is still only 20.

"It's good here (at Pride),'' the fearless midfielder said. "They've always given me the chance.''

Pride's loss to Olympic came after a first-up 2-1 win over Strikers.

"It's a bit of a down-to-earth kind of thing for us,'' Rigby said.

"Olympic just outplayed us today, all over the park. Not even bullied us, just played around us, played through us. Just beat us all round.''

Such an honest assessment from the skipper showed the Pride players think about their losses as much as their victories.

Former QAS footballer Rigby hopes the lessons learnt in Japan late last year will help them when it matters most throughout this NPL season, like in their win over the Strikers.

"That was pretty good. We're still pretty keen to build on that,'' he said.

"We have to work week by week. We just got touched up here tonight.

"We've got a good squad. If we stick together, we've got quality that can do things.''