Northern Rangers recruit Brisbane Knights midfielder Jesse Rodriguez for its 2017 NPL Tasmania season

Jesse Rodriguez touches down in Launceston to his first touch at the club.
Jesse Rodriguez touches down in Launceston to his first touch at the club.

Northern Rangers are casting aside a horrendous 2016 season for a prosperous 2017 year.

The club is taking greater strides towards a more holistic approach to new signings.

It includes a philosophy of securing a number of long-term prospects from outside the club, who potentially can be a part of Rangers’ rebuild for years to come.

The first recruit for its next NPL Tasmania campaign is Brisbane Knights attacking wide midfielder Jesse Rodriguez from Queensland’s second-tier Brisbane Capital 1 League. 

“I was introduced to this opportunity through a friend, who played with Rangers in the NPL last year,” Rodriguez said, “and he told me he loved it and that the club was great, so I thought I would take my chances.” 

Recruit Jesse Rodriguez

Recruit Jesse Rodriguez

The 20-year-old had been recommended by the club’s 2016 Peruvian goalkeeper Luigi Cordova, who has since returned to Queensland to satisfy visa requirements but will act as a recruiting scout for the club in the meantime.

Rodriguez felt playing in Tasmania’s premier soccer competition was a move that would benefit his own game.

He spent the 2016 season on the sidelines after two years playing for the Knights and is now primed to hit the training track this summer.

“I’m looking forward to getting fitter and to get my confidence back up, and be the best player I can be,” Rodriguez said. 

The midfielder also added that his strength is getting into wide positions to help create space for the team after being accustomed to a fast paced, pass and move game-style. 

Rodriguez comes to Rangers with a strong football heritage, initially playing his formative years through an El Salvadorian ex-pats’ club in south-west Brisbane that was founded by his father.

He would later transfer to Brisbane Knights, aged 17, to get a first taste of the senior men’s game.

“That was a big step for me as a young player playing in a men’s team,” Rodriguez said. 

“It showed me a lot how to play with adults, who have been playing longer than me.” 

The Queenslander sent a message to new Rangers coach Lino Sciulli ahead of his arrival this week: “I will give 100 per cent when given the opportunity and I won’t let you down”.

Sciulli, who was appointed coach of its NPL Tasmania side after being dumped by Launceston City in favour of Ben Brookfield, will take the club’s first preseason session on Tuesday evening at Kings Meadows High School.

Meanwhile, the club has confirmed it will continue to work on more signings in the coming weeks, targeting players out of Brisbane as a new recruiting hot spot.

“The signing of some fresh talent is important in changing the culture from a disappointing 2016 campaign and getting the club back to the competitive and respected position as a formidable opponent it has enjoyed over the last decade,” Rangers president Mark Jefferson said in a statement.