Comfortable Rogic plays up to his audience

''I think I've had a bit of an impact'' … Tom Rogic.
''I think I've had a bit of an impact'' … Tom Rogic.

SOME players don't like the big stage. They find the spotlight too intimidating, too confronting. Then, every so often, along come a few who can't get enough of it.

It's been a while since Australia has produced a player like this but in Tom Rogic, that time might be now. His coach at club level, Graham Arnold, reckoned his eyes lit up when he walked into the dressing room before Central Coast's match against Sydney FC in front of a capacity crowd at Bluetongue Stadium.

Rogic crushed Sydney so spectacularly it seemed almost inevitable he would be in the national team sooner rather than later. Well, here he is, having already made his debut this month against Korea - and impressing, of course. He looks so comfortable in an Australian shirt that you can't help but feel he's destined for some memorable moments.

''When I look in the mirror, I still look the same,'' he jokes. ''Of course, everyone likes to play in the big games, the important ones. We had a big crowd there that night [against Sydney] and it made the game that little bit more important and, I guess, that little bit more significant. But I don't think I'm anyone different in that regard.''

The off-field persona contrasts starkly with the on-field confidence. With the World Cup barely 18 months away, the prospect of Rogic going to Brazil is tantalising, even if coach Holger Osieck is frantically trying to hose down expectations.

Yet even Osieck couldn't resist calling Rogic into this week's training camp ahead of next month's East Asian Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong, where he is certain to win selection.

Chances of the 19-year old's head getting too big, however, are just about impossible at the Mariners, a club where egos are virtually banned.

''I definitely get that vibe from the environment I'm in. I think it would be hard to get ahead of yourself with the players that are in the squad and the culture of the club,'' he said. ''It's how everyone carries themselves day-to-day, in training - that goes for on and off the pitch. We all live pretty close together there in Terrigal and it's a good bunch of lads.''

Out of contract in just a few months, the obvious question is whether Rogic will stay with Central Coast. His profile has exploded to such a point that he could possibly command a marquee position at another A-League club or a serious deal overseas.

However, time is on his side. He's in no mood to follow the likes of Rostyn Griffiths, Matt Simon and Mile Jedinak, who all departed Central Coast mid-season in recent years, and is at least committed until the end of the year.

''Who knows - we're only eight games into the season,'' he said. ''We're not even half way and to be thinking about or planning what's going to happen after this season is getting ahead of myself a bit. I've still got a lot of things to get through before I start thinking about what my options are or where they might be.''

Though young players are notorious for suffering from the dreaded second-year syndrome, Rogic has his fingers crossed that won't be affecting him any time soon.

''Generally you tend to find the second season is the harder one for a young player but I'm quite happy with how I've gone to date,'' he said. ''I think I've had a bit of an impact and been able to help the side in some of our games so far. I think we, as a squad, have done tremendously well together.''

Meanwhile, Melbourne Heart youngster Aziz Behich feels he's ready to make the step to being Australia's top left-back despite having only taken to the role last year.

''That's my position now and while there's other players around and some competition, my goal is to get my chance again and to show I can play in that position,'' he said.

This story Comfortable Rogic plays up to his audience first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.