'Pivotal moment now': Wembley memories and Hampden hope can wait for Hearts' Kye Rowles

A couple of weeks ago it was Wembley and this weekend it will be Hampden, but Kye Rowles is focused on Tynecastle and the grounding it can offer Hearts as they seek to put their up and down start to the season behind them and build some positive momentum.
Hearts defender Kye Rowles.Hearts defender Kye Rowles.
Hearts defender Kye Rowles.

Turning out for Australia as a left-back as the Socceroos lost 1-0 to Gareth Southgate’s men in a friendly, Rowles found the whole Wembley experience a memorable one.

Having never sampled Scotland’s national stadium either, he is hoping a win over Rangers in the League Cup semi-final, will render that even more special. But first, he says, Hearts have to concentrate on fortifying their own stadium.

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“It was pretty special [at Wembley],” said Rowles. “The stadium was massive and it was a bit of a bucket list [item] to tick off, especially being a young Aussie boy, you don't really understand that playing at Wembley is such a special experience and is very rare in anyone's career to play there. I was pretty starstruck.”

Having filled in at left back for some of the capital derby, international boss Graham Arnold asked him to reprise that role against England. “I was up against Jarrod Bowen so it was pretty interesting,” said Rowles. “I was pretty much crossing my fingers that he didn't run at me. But, personally, when the first whistle goes I am just locked in. I don't notice anything outside of the field really. Head down and do my job.”

So switched into the game, he was beaten by a colleague when it came to swapping shirts after the final whistle. “I was probably going to swap with Bowen because my older brother is a Hammers fan but I think Jacko [Jackson Irvine] played with him earlier in his career [at Hull City] so he was straight out there. I wasn’t going to complain. In the end I just kept mine for my brothers because it has got the date, stadium and all that so it is pretty special.”

Importantly, he also got to walk away with the confidence boost that comes from going toe to toe with elite players and holding your own. “Yeah, definitely. You are up against some of the best players in the world. If you can do it there then you can bring it back to the club and you can do it here. I feel like if you can put on good performances when you are at your club and national team it can go a long way for your confidence levels.”

Wednesday night’s match against Livingston, coming on the back of a draw and two losses, is one of those games where the outcome could be worth more than three points. “I think it’s a pretty pivotal moment now. Livingston is the first of two massive games for this week and positive performances in both games would go a long way to steering everyone in the right direction. Not only us boys and everyone involved with the club but for the fans and the community as well. Everyone needs a positive bounce back. We’ve been there in games and not quite got it done, and just for the confidence and belief it will be big to show we can play well and get the result as well.”