Arnie determined to find switch to ignite Rogic
SIX years after he gave a raw but gifted youth his professional breakthrough, Graham Arnold is once again trying to work out the best way to maximise the talents of Tomi Rogic.
As Arnold prepares for his first international as Socceroos boss on Tuesday morning (3am EDT), the question of how to fully ignite Rogic in Australia's colours has occupied him since taking the job.
It was Arnold who offered Rogic a contract in 2011 before he went to the UK to take part in the Nike Chance talent show that transformed his life, and who signed him to a professional deal once that was complete.
In the years since, Rogic has offered moments of brilliance for his country, without always dominating games as he can do for his club Celtic.
Ange Postecoglou tried playing with two playmakers to squeeze Rogic and Aaron Mooy into the same team, but so far no formation has quite allowed him to take over.
Often swamped by markers at international level, Rogic needs to be at the centre of rapid-fire, bagatelle passing, to be one step ahead of his opponents. When he is, the results can lift a crowd.
"Tomi's an important piece in the team, but also for Australian football," Arnold said.
"He's a player who excites everyone; he does it every week at Celtic and when I watch him I'm very proud to have been part of his career in the past.
"I only see Tomi Rogic going to another level with us in the next four years. Tomi will be given more freedom on the field to express himself and show his qualities. I know with that freedom we will see a different Tomi Rogic."
A very diffident public speaker, Rogic nonetheless defends what he has produced in the green and gold so far.
"I'm very proud of what I've achieved so far, and very proud to represent Australia," he said in Kuwait hours before the game.
"I've matured. I'm 25 now and I've played a lot of games for Australia. There's a lot of players who will be looking to contribute more, take on more responsibility.
"At 25 I feel I have a lot more to give, domestically and internationally."
Fitter and stronger than ever, Rogic knows his time is coming, in a team getting a suffusion of younger faces. With 40 caps he becomes relatively more senior, and can feed off the extra responsibility.
If Arnold's system truly allows Rogic to shine, he will have gone a long way to guaranteeing success.
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