FORMER Socceroo Matt Jurman has no intention of "making up the numbers" after returning to the A-League with the Newcastle Jets.
Jurman, the 31-year-old central defender who has previously played for Sydney FC, Brisbane and Western Sydney, is back Down Under after a one-season stint with Xanthi in Greece.
Capped eight times by Australia, Jurman signed a two-year deal with Newcastle and shapes as a key figure in the backline after the departures of Nigel Boogaard, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Lachlan Jackson and Johnny Koutroumbis.
"I've played in some different countries and in the set-up for the national team," Jurman said. "My goal is to give some of that experience to the younger boys and we also want to win this year.
"We don't want to just make up the numbers."
Jurman said "a few conversations with the boss" - new Jets coach Arthur Papas - convinced him to make Newcastle the seventh club of his professional career.
"The whole picture he was giving me, the way he wanted to play, he obviously really wanted me to be part of it," Jurman recalled.
"I think those were the main things that brought me to the Jets. In football, you really don't know what's around the corner and it's hard to make plans.
"But it's funny, I've been here for two or three months now and it's pretty similar to Wollongong so it's been easy to settle in, even with everything going on with COVID."
Jurman likes what he has seen so far at training.
"There are a lot of young players here who have great potential, and there's also a good mix of experience and middle-aged boys who are ready to step up," he said.
"I think once we get closer, training will ramp up. And there's still a few boys to come in. Once they get here, we'll be able to gel a bit more. I'm not sure how many friendlies we'll be able to get in, but it will be nice to start playing some games together."
Meanwhile Jurman, born and bred in Dapto, believes it's time for the Wollongong Wolves to get their chance in the A-League.
"I'd love to see it ... I definitely think a Wollongong team deserves to be in the A-League," he said.
Jurman's football journey started at Dapto when he was four, before joining the Wolves in the under-11s. He remained with the club for several years before his family decided to move to Sydney in a bid to take his career to the next level.
It was a gamble that paid dividends.
"I was obviously happy to be playing at the Wolves, then I got the opportunity to move to Parramatta Melita. At the back-end, they had a connection with Manchester United and a lot of players were coming to Parramatta," the 31-year-old said.
"I'm grateful for my parents to give me the opportunity to be able to do that by moving to Sydney and getting me into a sports school (Westfields). Without them, I wouldn't have been able to achieve my dreams."
Jurman's career has included stints at Sydney FC, the Roar and Wanderers, as well as playing for overseas clubs Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Al-Ittihad and Xanthi. He has also represented the Socceroos on eight occasions.
But the ongoing impact of COVID played a role in Jurman wanting to return to Australia. And the Jets were preparing to swoop.
Jurman's capture continues a busy off-season for Newcastle, who have also brought in the likes of Michael Weier, Kosta Grozos and Jordan Elsey in a bid to rise up the ladder.
Jurman is confident the side will impress when the season kicks off next month.