Magpies Crusaders goalie thrives in Roar pre-season sessions
TOWERING Magpies Crusaders goalkeeper Willem Lejeune looked far from out of place between the posts as he fielded sizzling strikes from the best the A-League has to offer.
The Canberran was one of a handful of Magpies Crusaders mainstays to accept an offer to train with the Brisbane Roar during the club’s pre-season camp in Mackay this week.
Lejeune returned home to Canberra after confirmation Magpies Crusaders’ 2020 NPL Queensland campaign would be cut short just five rounds into the season.
Back in Mackay this week to train and play in Saturday night’s pre-season exhibition against the Roar, Lejeune said it was nice to be back in his “second home”.
He joined fellow goalkeeper Reef Murfet and teammates Kyren Walters, Marko Milutinovic and Jordy Vleugels on the training pitch at Sologinkin Oval this morning.
A member of Canberra United’s Foxtel Youth League side before signing with Magpies Crusaders at the end of last season, Lejeune has spent the NPL Queensland hiatus playing in Canberra and training with the Sydney FC Youth squad.
His exposure to the Sydney system meant he was not overawed at the prospect of fielding shots from the cream of the Roar’s attacking crop, though he admitted there was a step up in intensity with the senior squad.
“Obviously the maturity of these boys is a bit different – they’re in their 20s and 30s some of them. The speed and the skills are there as in Sydney but the intensity and power of the shots and just the maturity of everyone and the confidence they have is a bit different,” Lejeune said.
“I’m just happy to be here. To learn things from the mature ‘keepers and their ‘keeper coach. Each coach has their take on things and things to implement (in your game).”
Lejeune is vying for minutes in Saturday night’s showcase match against the Roar, with Murfet and incumbent ‘keeper Jayden Tower also in the mix.
As he and Murfet traded places between the posts at the end of this morning’s sessions with the Roar, Lejeune said the extra competition for the starting gloves would be a benefit to both shotstoppers.
“Last season having the younger ‘keepers, obviously they’ll be very good when they mature, but there wasn’t necessarily that direct push for that spot,” he said.
“I’m actually glad to have competition for that spot. It makes me better and it makes him better.
“At the end of the day we want to be the best ‘keepers we can be.
“We’ll see who can get the most minutes (on Saturday) but I’ll obviously be pushing for that at the end of the day.”
The 195cm shotstopper will return to Canberra on Monday and plans to stay until late-December, at which point he will make a call on his football future and whether or not that includes a return to Mackay for next season.