Big James Donachie cut an imposing figure in the Brisbane Roar back line last season – and now the 22-year-old is even bigger and stronger.
An off-season gym program and a healthy diet has seen the central defender add 3kg to his 188cm frame and all of it is muscle and power.
“I feel very strong, very quick,” Donachie said after finishing another of the intense pre-season training sessions that have become part of Head Coach John Aloisi’s preparations for the upcoming Westfield FFA Cup tie with Western Sydney Wanderers FC at Penrith.
Donachie says he thrives in the one- and two-touch drills and has adapted quickly to the high-tempo game Aloisi has introduced to the Roar.
“It has helped to improve my passing at the back a lot,” Donachie said.
“The ball gets driven in and knocked around a lot harder than I was used to so you have to stay sharp and focused.
“I seem to be getting more time on the ball which is great and I can’t wait for us to try out the new structures in our FFA Cup game against the Wanderers.”
Last season Donachie established himself as a regular selection in the middle of the Roar defence – he played 18 Hyundai A-League games and four AFC Champions League matches and scored his first two goals for the club.
He is looking for an even bigger season ahead, particularly as a member of the Australian under-23 squad that in January will bid for qualification to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Playing football at the Olympics in Brazil – that’s definitely something to look forward to,” Donachie said.
Donachie’s new season has already started well with a strong performance in the Roar’s highly commended 2-1 loss to Liverpool FC.
Donachie only found time to watch a recording of the game last weekend and says the enormity of it all finally sunk in.
“I didn’t think too much about it at the time but when I watched it back I realised how many people were there and what the atmosphere was like,” he said.
“It was awesome . . . something I will remember for the rest of my life.”