After sealing the Premier’s Plate Brisbane Roar defender and PFA Executive Member Shane Stefanutto shares with us what drove their success and the players desire to finish the job.

What was the feeling like at the end of last season having had so much success in the previous two?

SS:It was extremely disappointing and a strange one after having had two years of success. It was to the point where I could not watch the Grand Final with us not being part of the big day. To come so close to being there again and not making it was a tough one to take.

Q. Did it increase your motivation ahead of this season?

SS:It gave us the chance as a group to say ‘we don’t want this to happen again.’ As soon as we returned from holidays you could sense the determination in the group. We were all so focused on not letting it happen again.

Q. Did you discuss in pre-season using the disappointment of the previous season as motivation?

SS: It was unspoken but it was there across the board. Mike (Mulvey) did drum into us after that loss to Western Sydney (in the semi-final) to embrace the pain and make it worthwhile. I think straight away the boys were preparing themselves and focusing on the next season.

Did pre-season give you an indication of how successful you could be?

SS: I think the first confidence came from the signings we made, people like Liam Miller, Matt McKay, Dimitri Petratos, Diogo Ferreira and the young boys stepping up. You could see in pre-season that those guys would add a lot. We also played well in pre-season and were getting good results against A-League sides. They were probably a couple of weeks behind us and we were probably fitter at that stage but we got momentum and confidence to go into the start of the season. That made us ready to go from the first week, unlike last season where we didn’t get off to the best start and that made it difficult for us.

How important were the opening few rounds of the competition in setting you up for the season?

SS:We talk about momentum a lot and how important that is. When you’re doing well the momentum that builds can make you feel like you are unstoppable at times. When we have been playing good football it has just been really strong and you go in to games with a good feeling and full of confidence. As footballers we are just like other people in that confidence is hugely important and if you can play with confidence you play a lot better.

Q. You missed a chunk of the season through injury but just as has been the case throughout the season in almost all positions someone was ready to step in and fill the void, how important has the depth of the squad been?

SS:I think this is the strongest squad we have ever had. I think opportunities through injury have been great for us looking back. It has given opportunities to a lot of different players, we have not just been reliant on the same 11 or 12. So therefore, as footballers, everybody feels like they have contributed to our success and that will be even more important as the season goes on.

Q. Was opening a lead up quickly at the top of the A-League a surprise?

SS: The A-League is always surprising. As a footballer you tend not to look at the table but rather what is in front of you and coming up. Results just seemed to be falling in our favour and before long we had a bit of a gap.

Q. Did you feel more or less pressure being out in front?

SS: When you are having to win to stay in the race for finals teams tend to get a bit more desperate and it can make your performance suffer. For us we were able to relax and stay focused because we were not having to worry about that so much.

Q. Did having the Premier’s Plate there on the weekend add any extra pressure to get a good result?

SS: It was about a big game against Melbourne Victory and the performance was the key and the rest would look after itself and that has been our philosophy all the way. We have wanted to embrace the big games, because as footballers those are the games you want to play in. We also don’t look too far forward and focus on the performance. As a squad we are very disciplined in this approach.

Q. What was the moment like on Saturday night when the full-time whistle went and you had sealed the Premier’s Plate?

SS: It felt more relieving than anything else for me. It was kind of a little bit unbelievable because we had left it so late again and we were starting to think it was going to be draw and we would have to take a point but credit to the boys they never give up. When the goal went in it was such a relief, later when you have your hands on the trophy it was joy.

Q. How long did it take for your focus to shift back to what is to come?

SS: At recovery the next day we spoke about it being over and now the focus is on Melbourne Heart on Friday night and the finals series. We talk about momentum and we really want it going in to the finals and know how important it will be.