Why Drager's hat-trick is so important for Ipswich
AFTER scoring another hat-trick on his favourite ground, Peter Drager smiled his approval being back at the Ipswich Knights.
He hadn't played for 18 months due to injury, work commitments and an extended trip overseas.
However, the proud Ipswich footballer again showed his value starring in the Knights' first win of the Brisbane Premier League season.
"I'm pretty happy with scoring three goals. It feels like the old days,'' the popular striker said after the Knights' 3-2 victory over Souths United.
Drager, 27, rejoined the Knights after a two and a half year stint with Western Pride in the National Premier Leagues competition before his lengthy break from the game.
Asked if he was refreshed, Drager said the time away made him miss football.
"I really wanted to get back into it this year,'' said Drager, who is project manager with the Juwi renewable energy company.
"There's definitely motivation there which helped me get back into it.
"I've always enjoyed playing at Knights. I like all the guys there and get along with them.
"That's the reason why I play . . . for enjoyment and having a good bunch of people around you.''
The Ipswich junior has scored a number of hat-tricks over the years, winning back-to-back Golden Boot awards when the Knights were in Division 1.
The highly regarded striker also recalls scoring five goals against Beenleigh during a Division 1 final.
In Sunday night's game at Bundamba, Drager scored just before halftime, in the 64th minute and again in the 75th minute.
His first goal came from a Mitch Davis ball through over the top that Drager ran onto and finished off.
The second goal followed excellent lead-up work by injury-hampered Brodie Kenyon.
Drager completed the milestone after Jason Pillay made a break and cut it back just outside the six yard box.
"This hat-trick was probably one of my favourites because I haven't scored too many goals in the last couple of years,'' Drager said.
"With me being away and even when I was playing the first half of 2015, I was injured most of the time.
"To get a few in the back of the net is definitely confidence building.
"I can thank Rossie (new co-coach Graham Ross) for sticking by me. He's a top class coach. It's good to play under him and I think we'll have a really good season.''
Ross welcomed the return of Drager having kept in contact with him while he was living in Canada last year.
"It was great when I heard we had an opportunity to get him back,'' Ross said.
"I was sending him messages and doing everything I could to get him back at the club.
"He's such a handful up front and works so hard for you.
"I've been patient with him pre-season and I haven't really played him a full game, trying to get him right.
"That was his first 90 minutes yesterday.''
Drager scored his first goal back at the Knights in his team's 1-1 draw with Albany Creek.
The Knights top side is unbeaten with two draws and Sunday night's win.
The Knights Reserves suffered their first loss of the new season on Sunday afternoon, going down 2-0 to Souths United.
State of play
BPL: Ipswich Knights 3 (Peter Drager 3) d Souths United 2 (J Alexander, D Varma). Reserves: Souths United d Knights 2-0.
Next game: Wednesday night (7.30pm) - FFA Cup preliminary round: Ipswich Knights v Holland Park Hawks at Whites Hill Reserve.