IF recent form is any guide, South Cardiff centre-back Phil Bures will take his opportunity with both hands tonight when he turns out for the State League Select side against the Newcastle Jets at Darling Street Oval.
The 21-year-old was called into the representative side last week along with Charlestown’s Cameron Hughes for the first of two trials against the region’s elite team after Broadmeadow’s Josh Piddington and Jon Griffiths and the Blues’ Kyle Hodges withdrew.
‘‘I’m pretty stoked,’’ Bures said.
‘‘It’s a great opportunity to play at a higher level and I’m just going in there with an open mind and to have a crack.’’
Last year Bures took his chance at a higher level with South Cardiff after moving from Magic.
The Port Stephens junior from Lemon Tree Passage spent five years at Broadmeadow and had a taste of first grade but was stuck behind a wall of senior defenders at the heavyweight club.
He moved to the Gunners in 2011 to play more first grade and finished as their players’ player and player of the year in a breakthrough campaign for the club. And he did it all despite missing five weeks off due to a European holiday.
He formed a crucial combination in defence alongside Mitchell Cook as South Cardiff won the State Cup knockout, finished third in the league and went down on penalties to Magic in the grand final.
This year the accounting and finance student at the University of Newcastle has taken up the mantle of defensive general in the absence of Cook, who joined Charlestown.
Gunners coach and Select team co-coach Steve Piggott said Bures’s rep call-up was much deserved.
‘‘He had a fantastic year with Mitchell Cook guiding him [last season], and he’s improved out of sight this year,’’ Piggott said.
‘‘He’s improved his technique, his ball-passing abilities, and he’s shown some great leadership. He’s a great young player and he works hard.’’
Bures said being in the mix for the representative side was one of his goals for the year and he believed the responsibility placed on him at the Gunners this year had helped bring out his best.
‘‘I’ve been working on a few things, especially with Cooky leaving at the start of the year, to step up and go to another level,’’ he said.
‘‘The results have been pretty much the same, but personally I feel like I’ve been going OK and banging in a few goals as well.
‘‘I’ve captained junior sides before and that leadership role is something I enjoy.’’
Bures, who works at a financial advisory firm in Newcastle, was excited at the challenge of taking on A-League strikers tonight.
‘‘They’ve obviously got some pretty sharp guys at the top of the park and I’m looking forward to pitting myself against Ryan Griffiths and Michael Bridges,’’ he said.
‘‘They’ve played overseas and internationally and done it all.
‘‘It will be good to play against experienced guys like that and test myself to the limit.’’