CENTRAL Coast defender Patrick Zwaanswijk's experience and influence has been a vital part of the club's A-League success over the past three seasons.
The 37-year-old Dutch-born veteran has brought a wealth of knowledge and a willingness to teach his younger Mariners teammates since he joined the club at the start of the 2010-11 A-League season after more than 300 Eredivise games with FC Ultrecht and NAC Breda.
Zwaanswijk is set to return to the line-up after injury and suspension against Melbourne Victory tomorrow night in Launceston to add some important depth to an already strong Mariner's defence that faces a potent Victory forward set-up.
``The injury is one I had in Holland five years ago, but there is a lot of scar tissue there and every now and then it pops up and just before the Sydney game I was training and had a bit of a strain,'' he said.
``I had a break for 11 days but in that time we played three games in 10 days, but the good part is I should be right to play against Victory.''
Zwaanswijk said he was looking forward to returning to the side and making a contribution for the ladder leader.
``Being the oldest player at the club it's great to be part of the group with the way we train and play,'' he said.
``Everyone is satisfied because we picked up a new system this year with the 4-2-3-1 set-up and we have all picked it up really well tactically and done a great job.''
He described the Mariners as a close-knit group who enjoyed each other's company on and off the pitch and credited that culture as an integral part of their success.
``We help each other out whenever someone needs help and it's like the second family most people never have,'' he said.
``We are all down to earth guys and we don't have the marquee player who needs to be there to promote the club - everyone is hard working and wants to do the best for the club and the team and is not thinking selfishly about themselves.
``It's great to be part of and it's great that Arnie (Graham Arnold) is still there coaching and looking after everything and he is the brains of the team and puts everything together and we just do whatever he wants us to do on the field.
``I talk a lot to the young players and try to develop them tactically and they are willing 100 per cent to listen to my experience and want it so badly, it is great to work with them.''
Zwaanswijk said they respected their Melbourne opponent but were always confident of victory.
``They have a great side with Flores in the middle and Archie Thompson and Rojas on the outside and they've have great skills and a mix of youth and experience with Leijer at the back and Mark Milligan in there,'' he said.
``They have an all-round squad and are not a team you take lightly or are going to beat easily.
``But we always think about our strengths and our abilities and we think if everyone can be at their best level and perform how Arnie wants us to perform then we think we can beat anybody.''
THE BIG MATCH
WHO: Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners.
WHAT: A-League soccer.
WHEN: Tomorrow, 5.30pm
WHERE: Aurora Stadium.
TICKETS: Ticketmaster or 136 100.