Bilokapic taking 'mentally tough' Championship lessons into international duty

Huddersfield's Nicholas Bilokapic heads into this week's Maurice Revello Tournament off the back of a season in the Championship that has taught him so much.

It was a season that saw the young Australian goalkeeper appear in his first senior league game, before he was entrusted with a handful of starts between the sticks as the Yorkshire outfit battled relegation. 

At just 20 years of age, Bilokapic found himself in the midst of a survival battle, notably starting Neil Warnock's first match at the club and helping his side to a crucial victory with some key saves and even an assist. 

Looking back on the season that was, the shotstopper feels as though he has come a long way. 

"I think the pressure when you're in the bottom six is a bit more intense than whilst up the top," said Bilokapic, in camp with the Olyroos ahead of the Maurice Revello Tournament.

"When results are going your way, it's excellent, but when they're not it's exhausting - more mentally than physically. 

"He (Neil Warnock) is a great man manager and I think the positive vibes just went through the roof when he came in.

"It's just the vibe you get off him, the good energy, he knows what to get out of his players." 

Warnock's appointment certainly did the trick for Huddersfield, who collected 22 points from 14 fixtures to ensure they maintained their status in England's second tier. 

For Bilokapic, a Sydney United 58 junior, his first taste of Championship football capped a tough journey following his move to the United Kingdom in 2020. 

"It was a big shock, going from training three to four days a week to five days or six days a week," he recalls. 

"It was a bit of a physical shock, coming over here and experiencing snow for the first time and training in it.

"It was mentally tough, moving away from home at a young age and dealing with COVID when I moved over here." 

After trading the snow of West Yorkshire for the sun of Southern France, Bilokapic is understandably excited for the Olyroos' upcoming action. 

"I mean, how can you not be pumped?," he said. "It's summer now in Europe, and we've got football and sun in France. We came to the AIS camp where the facilities are excellent and now just looking forward to the tournament." 

Just like his fellow squad member Cam Peupion, who shared the messages of encouragement he'd received from his Brighton teammates, Bilokapic emerges from a club similarly familiar with the Maurice Revello Tournament (formerly known as the Toulon Tournament). 

"I think it's a great achievement, knowing that the players that have come through the ranks of this tournament, a few players at Huddersfield played in this tournament," he shared. 

It is a massive tournament, it could change players' lives.

"So I'm looking forward to it - of course it's always a milestone in your football journey when you play for your country." 

READ MORE: Calem Nieuwenhof carrying immense form to first overseas tournament
READ MORE: Cam Peupion's 'crazy couple of weeks' culminating in Premier League debut

Subway Olyroos’ Maurice Revello Tournament 2023 – Group B Schedule

Qatar v Australia
Date: Tuesday, 6 June 2023
Venue: Stade de Lattre-de-Tassigny, Aubagne
Kick-off: 2:00pm local, 10:00pm (AEST)

Australia v Mediterranean Select
Date: Friday, 9 June 2023
Venue: Stade d'Honneur, Mallemort
Kick-off: 2:00pm local, 10:00pm (AEST)

Mexico v Australia
Date: Monday, 12 June 2023
Venue: Stade de Lattre-de-Tassigny, Aubagne
Kick-off: 2:00pm local, 10:00pm (AEST)

How to watch

All group stage matches involving Australia will be LIVE on ESPN, Channel 509 on Foxtel, while all other group stage matches (including Australia's) plus the semi-finals and final will be streamed LIVE via the WatchESPN App.

Maurice Revello Tournament 2023 – Ranking Matches – Schedule

2.00pm (local), Thursday, 14 June: 11th vs 12th and 7th vs 8th at Arles & Miramas

6.00pm (local), Thursday, 14 June: 9th vs 10th and 5th vs 6th at Arles & Miramas

Maurice Revello Tournament 2023 – Semi-Finals – Schedule

2.30pm (local) Friday, 15 June: Semi-Final #1 at Salon

6.00pm (local) Friday, 15 June: Semi-Final #2 at Salon

Maurice Revello Tournament 2023 – Finals – Schedule

2.30pm (local) Sunday, 18 June: 3rd vs 4th at Salon

6.00pm (local) Sunday, 18 June: Final at Salon

A championship system will be in operation for this tournament, where each team is playing for three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a defeat. In the event of a tie at the end of a match, a penalty shoot-out will be held. The team that wins the penalty shoot-out will receive an additional point in the ranking.