Rhyan Grant reflects on time at AIS Centre of Excellence after Mark Viduka calls for program's return

THE Australian Institute of Sport's Centre of Excellence helped former Bathurst-based and Canowindra born talent Rhyan Grant forge the skills he needed to reach the A-League and achieve his dream of playing for the Socceroos.

Now former Socceroos legend Mark Viduka has made a call for the program to make a return.

EXPERIENCE: Rhyan Grant graduated from the AIS' Centre of Excellence, which Mark Viduka has called to be re-established. Photo: AMY McINTYRE

EXPERIENCE: Rhyan Grant graduated from the AIS' Centre of Excellence, which Mark Viduka has called to be re-established. Photo: AMY McINTYRE

Viduka said the institute's program "made him as a player" in an interview with Optus Sport and said the sport needed to have a presence at the Canberra centre again.

Grant was one of just many star Australian players to graduate from the centre before it was shutdown in 2017 due to its $1.6 million annual cost.

The Sydney FC player agreed with those sentiments from Viduka and said it would be wonderful to see the program make its comeback, assuming it was sustainable from a financial and logistical view.

"My time there was really beneficial. The big thing was helping me thrive under pressure, and it was great being able to learn the game from the best coaches in the country. With the amount of players who have come out of the program and been successful it speaks for itself," Grant said.

"Besides the on-field still, living around a bunch of other boys my age was really beneficial for me and making mates that you have for a lifetime. You all come together and it makes you better as a person.

"I'm not sure of the logisitics and the costs behind bringing it back, but it went a long way towards teaching young players the right techniques.

"And for me, coming from the country, you can sometimes get away with just being fit and running around a lot but when you want to kick on with your career you've got to do those little things right and the AIS was huge for that."

The program helped develop a big list of Socceroos talent like John Aloisi, Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton, Josip Skoko and Craig Moore.

Several of Grant's current Sydney FC teammates also came through around the same time as he did.

"I was there with Andrew Redmayne, who's at Sydney with me know, Matt Jurman, Daniel Mullen, James Holland and Luke DeVeer who are all still quite good mates," Grant said.

Grant and his Sydney FC teammates are playing an agonising waiting game as they look to finish off what's been an excellent A-League season.

Sydney FC are currently sitting eight points clear at the top of the table and are the only side to have already confirmed their place in the finals series.

Grant has been doing what he can to keep the break feel interesting but, like everyone else, would love to be on the field as soon as possible.

"It's pretty frustrating but it is what it is. They're doing the right thing," he said of the competition's indefinite wait, due to the coronavirus.

"The first week I took it as a bit of a break and didn't do a whole lot, enjoyed some down time, but after that I was getting antsy.

"I've been trying to exercise every day to get out of the house. I've been trying something different most days just to try and change the routine up a bit.

"I'm in the same boat as everyone else, slowly getting over the break, but in saying that it's not that bad either."