Right fullback Shaun Owens is back and ready to perform for Cairns FC in 2018.
Owens played his first NPL Queensland game since March last year when he suited up for the new club in their 3-1 loss to Gold Coast United at Barlow Park.
The result didn’t go the way of the NPL newcomers in front of their home crowd but Owens return proved a bright spot for Cairns after he was sidelined last year with gall bladder issues.
Owens was a consistent performer for former side FNQ Heat since he joined the club from Mareeba Bulls in 2015 – featuring in their 2016 march to the Grand Final and repeated FFA Cup Round of 32 qualifications.
Speaking post-match, Owen said he couldn’t be happier to again be on the park.
“It’s been about a year since I played in the NPL and it’s something I was looking forward to,” he explained.
“It makes you hungry. You have a bit of time to sit and reflect about what you want to do and what you want to achieve.”
“I’ve been working quite hard to get back and I love the feeling of being on the pitch – that’s what you work so hard for during the week to get that 90 minutes.”
Owens said the moment was extra special due to the large crowd that reportedly topped 1,300 for Cairns’ first league home game.
“Walking out sent a bit of a chill. You can hear the crowd, see your friends and all the kids are there on the side,” he said.
“After the game was fantastic. We spent a bit of time mingling with the kids, signing shin pads and signing balls, and they want to ask you about the game. It’s really good to have that kind of engagement and hopefully it continues.”
Owens played a key-role in Cairns’ only goal of the game, playing the final ball into teammate Josh Taylor.
He said he sees the burgeoning partnership between the two as something that will continue to deliver goals this season.
“We’ve had a few now between me and Josh Taylor (including pre-season). It’s been a good combination.”
He added, “He’s a smart player and I think he thinks similar to me. When I look up the spaces I like to penetrate are the places he likes to run.”
He said his Cairns teammates learned some valuable lessons from the opening night’s result and will be better for the hit-out after the usual difficulties of finding quality pre-season opponents.
“To compete in this league you have to be doing most things right otherwise you get wiped off the park,” he said.
“To be in that game for as long as we were means we were doing most of the right things but I doesn’t take much – two or three seconds and a little indecision and you pay for it like we did tonight when we made errors,” he concluded.
Cairns are at home again next weekend when they host Sunshine Coast FC, who suffered their 22nd straight league defeat in the opening round when they fell 4-2 to North Queensland United.
Cairns FC v Sunshine Coast FC
Saturday, February 10 | 6:30PM
Barlow Park, Cairns
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