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Nov 13, 2012

Rukavytsya relishes senior Socceroos role

Socceroos striker Nikita Rukavytsya is preparing to take on an uncustomary leadership role when he links up with a fresh-faced Australian squad in South Korea next week.

The 25-year-old is considered one of Australia's brightest young talents and is competing in his second campaign in Germany's Bundesliga, having switched from Hertha Berlin to Mainz at the start of the season.

But with uncapped youngsters including Tom Rogic, Eli Babalj, Aziz Behich and Mathew Leckie picked in the Australian squad for Wednesday's friendly match in Hwaseong, Rukavytsya will measure pushing his claims for a permanent start with words of reassurance for his new teammates.

"It's good to be a part of something a bit fresh," said Rukavytsya.

"The players that are coming in, it's good for them to be a part of that set-up and to see what it's like and to train with the group.

"(My advice to them will be to) just get the most out of it and just enjoy every day, enjoy every training and just have fun.

"Train how you normally train and it'll be all good.

"I've heard and I've read on the internet that they're promising and they're talented.

"Hopefully, they'll keep developing and become the best that they can be."

After making a huge impression with A-League club Perth Glory in 2007, Rukavytsya has since played in the Netherlands, Belgium and now Germany.

He's made four appearances for Mainz this season, including three starts, but is yet to cement himself in the starting side.

Nailing down a spot in the Australian team has been equally challenging, with Rukavytsya earning nine caps since making his Socceroo debut late in 2009.

With that in mind, the Ukraine-born striker is determined to make the most of his chance to play a lead role against one of Asia's top nations.

"When you play for the national team, it doesn't matter if it's a friendly or a qualifier - you always go there to perform and to win," said Rukavytsya.

"We're not going to think of it as just a training game. It's a proper game - you have to be switched on.

"It's going to be fun and I'm sure we'll enjoy it and we'll get a good result."

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