Young Roar keepers keen to impress in upcoming NPL Queensland campaign

Nick O'Connell

Brisbane Roar Youth have locked in an ambitious and well-credentialled young goalkeeping group to provide the foundation for another exciting NPL Queensland campaign.

Chris Grossmann’s Young Roar have recruited Tasmanian product Nick O’Connell and 18-year-old James Clasen from Gold Coast Knights to combine with Lachlan Duke in a talented trio that will work across the BRFC Academy and first team environments in 2022.

O’Connell joins the club from South Hobart FC after being recommended to the BRFC Academy’s Goalkeeper Coach Dean May as an outstanding prospect.

He impressed for the BRFC Invitational XI against the Roar’s Isuzu UTE A-League side in November and is excited to build on a brief training stint with Warren Moon’s team.

“I had a few sessions with Dean, and Jonesy (Paul Jones) and Warren wanted to see me as well,” O’Connell said. “That’s when I came up for that week when the game was on. It was good to be in that Invitational side.

“I’m pretty pumped. It’s always been on my schedule, my career path, to move away from Tassie to play at a higher level.

O’Connell playing for the BRFC Invitational XI

“To be around some of the best players in Australia, it’s such a good opportunity for someone to come from Tassie where there’s no higher level club.

“I’m sure it will do wonders for my ability and hopefully my career going forward.”

O’Connell slots into the Academy setup alongside two young locals in Clasen and Duke, both of whom will also be aiming for more senior NPL exposure.

Clasen debuted as a 17-year-old for the Knights in July while Duke featured on the bench during Young Roar’s run to the Semi Finals last season.

The latter has goalkeeping in his blood with his father, Daniel Duke, having played in the old National Soccer League for Brisbane Strikers and the Auckland-based Football Kingz.

“He tried to convince me not to be a ‘keeper to be honest, because it’s a hard spot, but I’ve wanted to be a ‘keeper since I started playing when I was five,” Lachlan said.

Duke in action during the Roar’s pre-season Fraser Coast camp (image: FC Sports Media)

That determination has paid off, with Duke named Goalkeeper of the Tournament in his age group at the National Youth Championships two years ago and now getting opportunities to train with the first team.

“I love it here. It’s an awesome experience,” he said of rubbing shoulders with Macklin Freke, Jordan Holmes, Aidan Munford and the rest of the Isuzu UTE A-League squad.

“The intensity is higher, it’s a big step up from the Academy, and what I learn here is just awesome.

“I’m hoping to get a few appearances in the NPL now and be able to show everyone what I can do.

“Pushing to play games and to play well, that’s my goal at the moment.”

With three goalkeepers confirmed, the club looks forward to this week announcing the full Brisbane Roar Youth squad for the 2022 season.