Father and son act keep it professional

LIGHT-HEARTED: Star recruit Jason Culina with father Branko, far left, and Jets CEO Ken Edwards yesterday. - Picture by Max Mason-Hubers
LIGHT-HEARTED: Star recruit Jason Culina with father Branko, far left, and Jets CEO Ken Edwards yesterday. - Picture by Max Mason-Hubers

JASON and Branko Culina admitted working together at the Newcastle Jets could initially be awkward but both were adamant their professionalism would override any potential problems.

Newcastle confirmed yesterday that Jason would be joining his father and Jets coach Branko in the Hunter for the next three years on a deal believed to be worth $2.65 million.

Father and son fronted a media conference yesterday where much of the focus was on how they would work together.

"It is going to be different, definitely but I am absolutely delighted to be here," Jason said.

"It is something that I didn't have to think too long about. It is always a bit awkward when you have to work with you father. I'm here to do a job to the best of my ability and my dad is here to do the same."

Branko said that though "Jason would always be my son" when it came to football he would be treated the same as every other player.

"I will always love him off the park but not necessarily on the park if he doesn't do the right thing," he said. "As a player he is like everyone else. He starts from scratch, zero. Everyone does."

Fox Sports analyst Mark Bosnich described the Jets' decision to recruit Jason as dangerous.

"I don't know . . . I can't say it's a good move. I'd like to say it is a good move," Bosnich said on Fox Sports FC. "It's very, very dangerous when you link up with your father, as a lot of people have found out in the past."

Branko expected some criticism.

"There will be people out there who say this, that and the other about nepotism," he said.

"We are talking about a player who has been at two World Cups, is a current Socceroo, has been capped 58 times and captained his country at a senior level. If you asked any other club if they wanted Jason, they would say yes.

"I spoke to some of our key players, the captain. I spoke to the chairman, the owner, the CEO.

"Once they all agreed that signing Jason was the right thing for this club, it made me feel better and comfortable. Deep down I know it won't be easy but we are strong characters, we are winners, we are survivors."

Jason, 30, made his professional debut at 16 for Sydney United under his father in the old national league.

Branko dropped him for the grand final that year.

"Aytek Genc came back from injury and had played all year. Jason didn't like it but the team had to come first."

Jason is the first major full-time addition to the club's roster since Nathan Tinkler took over in September. He is recovering from minor knee surgery and his young family will spend the next two days in Newcastle inspecting real estate.

Branko will meet players off contract over the next two days to tell them of their future.

Zhang Shuo, Marcello Fiorentini and Kaz Patafta have been released.

Jobe Wheelhouse has rejected an initial one-year deal.

Neil Young is likely to be offered a new deal, beating Matt Nash to the second goalkeeper position.

Sasho Petrovski would have to take a pay cut to stay and the futures of Ali Abbas, Sean Rooney and Brodie Mooy are unclear.