Virgili benefitting from off-season progress

James Virgili says that playing with the Jets youth team in the NBN State League boosted his confidence ahead of the A-League.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets forward James Virgili has revealed that playing with the Jets youth team in the NBN State League played a big part in helping accelerate his development as a player.

Virgili was one of the standout performers for the Jets youth team which finished third in the competition.

On the back of those performances combined with his scintillating start to the A-League season, Virgili put pen to paper on a new two-year deal with the Jets on Thursday.

The 20-year-old said the experience he gained playing against adults on a weekly basis in the NBN State League gave him the confidence to perform at A-League level.

“I played in the NBN State League during the A-League off-season and that was good for the confidence because I was always taking on players there,” Virgili said.

“I think when the season started for the A-League, I just backed myself to do the same thing and take that confidence into games.

“I-ve been fortunate enough to play in each and every game so far and hopefully I can keep on playing well and hopefully we can make the finals and do well.”

Virgili said he is please to have his future at his hometown Club secured for the next 24 months.

“It-s good to get it out of the way because you don-t really want it hanging over your head for too long and it-s good that it was done pretty quickly,” he said.

“With that two years of security, you don-t have to worry so much about what-s going to happen. You know for the next two years where you-re going to be and you can just focus on the football side of things now.

“There were other options that came up, but Newcastle was my first preference because I-ve always wanted to stay here and play football.”

Although he has already played more games this season than any other in his A-League career, Virgili has been in and out of the Jets- starting line-up over the course of the first six matches.

Head coach Gary van Egmond has chosen to use the former Young Socceroo as an impact player in some instances and Virgili said he is happy fulfilling any role where he can help the Jets win.

“Whatever Gary chooses to do, I-m happy with. I-ve just got to keep on working hard and training hard. I know that Gary is happy with me, so I-ve just got to keep taking my opportunities,” Virgili said.

“I think this year I-ve started about three games or so and have been on the bench for the other games. It-s a competitive team that we-ve got and I just want to keep being in the squad.

“I-ve played six games so far this season and last year I only played about four, so I-ve already beaten that. I want to keep playing during the season and keep being in the squad.”

Virgili's next test will come when the Jets take on Wellington Phoenix at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Newcastle will be looking to secure their third straight home win.

Match details: Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix Hunter Stadium Sunday, November 18 Kick-off 3pm (Gates open 2pm) Tickets available from PROticket

Following the conclusion of Sunday-s fixture, children will have the opportunity to have a kick-around on the Hunter Stadium turf.