STEPHAN KELLER will have to put his new obsession with rugby league behind him today when he takes to the field for Sydney FC in their crunch match against the Mariners.The Swiss defender was glued to the television yesterday watching the NRL grand final, filling in his family – who have only recently arrived from Europe – about the finer points of the game he’s quickly come to love.Keller will have his own mighty battle at the Sydney Football Stadium this afternoon when he fronts up to Matt Simon, the Mariners striker who loves getting physical with his opponents. Still, Keller reckons he’d rather face up to Simon than what was on offer at ANZ Stadium yesterday.”Obviously I played against Matt Simon when we played against the Mariners, so I know what he’s like and I see he’s scored a couple of goals,” Keller said. ”But I don’t think he hits as hard as Fuifui Moimoi.”Keller’s no-nonsense approach has seen him become a valuable part of the Sky Blues’ back four, which is probably why the rough-and-tumble of rugby league appeals to him so strongly. ”The players are really tough. They don’t cry on the field. They get up, they go on – and it’s a sport, for me, that would be too hard to play,” he said. ”It’s great to watch and I have a lot of respect for these guys.”Normally by the age of 30, you’re done, your career is over because you’ve had so much pain, so it’s just a respect and admiration to see how these guys play every game. They gave all their energy, force and power to try and win.”After missing the past two games with a calf injury, Keller has trained at full tilt all week and says he’s looking forward to getting himself back into the heart of defence.”I’m very excited to be back,” he said. ”No player likes to be injured for any amount of time. I was actually hoping to be back last week, but the medical staff made a decision not to take the risk because if there was a tear then I would be out much longer. We gave it another week’s rest and this week it was a good training week, so I’m ready.”Joining Keller on the comeback trail has been Terry McFlynn, who has recovered from a thigh problem and is free to play after his partner gave birth on Thursday.Keller says his injury slowly developed over time and became a real problem for him during the 1-0 loss against North Queensland.”It didn’t happen in just one moment, I just kept getting treatment on it and it would go away on Mondays but come back all the time during the game,” he said. ”In the Fury game, the pain was simply unbearable and in the rush to get an equaliser, I had to give my spot to someone fit and go off the field. But now the pain has gone and it feels like the way it should.”The 30-year-old was criticised following the last match against the Mariners, habitually playing long balls out of defence for the entire game – not that he regrets it. ”In the A-League, you get closed down quickly and sometimes playing a short pass is not an option,” he said. ”It just makes more sense to get out of trouble and sometimes that means you have to play a long ball.”Still, Keller is also feeling much better about life now that his family is here and they’re quickly settling into life in the new family home, just north of Manly.”They arrived two weeks ago and I’m very happy that they’re finally out here. I was here for a long time by myself,” he said. ”For the first couple of weeks, it was all right you’re busy settling in.”But when you’re used to having family around at your place, it gets quiet. I’m used to going out with my boys – doing sports, going to the beach – but without them here, I really missed it and you don’t really do that stuff when you’re alone.”It just means things are back to normal for me now, which is great.”
Nanjing Night Net