Rivalry sends Jets flying up ladder

NEWCASTLE Jets youngster Adam Taggart credits the rivalry between teammates at the club for driving the side up the A-League table.

The Jets were without a win in their opening four games but two wins on the trot have propelled them up into the top three.

Taggart has been an influential factor in the Jets rise, which included a brace in their 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar at Hunter Stadium on Sunday evening.

With his current contract due to expire at the end of the 2013/14 season, the Jets will be keen to retain his services before other A-League clubs begin to circle the rising star - and on current form, it's perhaps foreign clubs that Jets should more wary of.

But the 20-year-old says a healthy competition for places in the Jets is the main factor in the club's current form, with the youngster keeping the likes of Michael Bridges and Emile Heskey consigned to the bench for a large part of the season so far.

“It’s very competitive for starting spots,” Taggart told au.fourfourtwo.com. “Especially in the forward areas with myself, Emile, Bridgey, Craig Goodwin and Nathan Burns all working hard at training to try and push our way into Gary’s plans. 

“But it’s a healthy rivalry, we’re all mates, and it can only be a good thing to keep us all on our toes, knowing that there are several other guys trying to take your spot.”

An Australian Institute of Sport graduate, the Perth-born striker has been around the A-League since 2010 when he signed his first professional contract with his hometown club, Perth Glory.

“Obviously, being a WA boy, Glory was the obvious choice for me to sign with when I left the AIS,” said Taggart.

“Guys like Kenny Lowe had been really important to me from my time at the WA NTC programme and WA felt like the natural place for me to be.

“It didn’t work out though with the likes of Shane Smeltz, Billy Mehmet and Travis Dodd in the squad, it made it quite hard for me to get a look in.”

It was this lack of opportunity and his relationship with former AIS coach, Gary van Egmond, that saw him take the step to move across to the east coast and link up with his former coach at Newcastle Jets.

The move to the Jets sparked a new level of success with the young striker called up to the Socceroos squad for the East Asian Cup qualifying tournament in Hong Kong last year. 

Taggart made three appearances throughout the tournament and scored twice, leading to his selection for the East Asian Cup where he played and scored against China in their 4-3 victory over the Socceroos in July. 

Taggart added: “It would’ve been the easy decision to just extend my contract at Glory, and hope for the best.

"But I thought I needed a change to grow as a person as well as a footballer, and I haven’t regretted my decision. 

“I’ve got nothing but kind words for Glory though, as they will always be my hometown club who gave me my first pro opportunity."