He's been thrown in the deep end and already thwarted the likes of Bruce Djite and Dario Vidosic, but young Newcastle defender Lachlan Jackson will embark on his sternest test yet against former Brisbane teammate Brandon Borrello.
Jackson has started at centre-back in the Jets' last three matches to plug the gap left by the injured Daniel Mullen (knee).
At 20 years old and even now with only seven A-League matches under his belt, it's been a baptism of fire.
But Jackson has shown potential in coach Scott Miller's heavily rotated back four, and is feeling more self-assured in his central defensive partnership with skipper Nigel Boogaard.
"I'm much more comfortable with the players around me, and definitely with confidence - the more games I play the more confident I become," Jackson said.
"The more contests and more games, the stronger you feel and the more confident you become."
That's perhaps a relief to both himself and Miller, given he's about to try and stop ladder leaders Roar - and goalscoring machine Borrello - in their tracks.
Jackson played alongside his "great friend" Borrello in Brisbane's youth league and trained with him for years, before signing for the rebuilt Jets in the off-season.
The Townsville-born defender made three senior appearances for the Roar, including scoring against the Jets.
"Brandon's scored a few goals - we all know that - and he's quick," Jackson said of the 20-year-old, who has netted four times in seven games.
"But I think with the form he's in, if we can shut him down early it will be a good benefit for us.
"We've just got to get to him early. He's quick, so if we stop him opening up the legs we'll be right."
Newcastle have won only one of their past 12 home matches, against Melbourne Victory last month, which was also Jackson's debut.
Three points at Hunter Stadium on Saturday would ensure they stay in the top five, their chances boosted by the likely return of Leonardo.
The Brazilian playmaker sat out the weekend's draw with Adelaide after an injury scare the week prior but completed a full session on Wednesday.
"They're top of the league for a reason," Jackson said.
"But if we stick to the structure and play how Scott wants us to play I think we'll do very well."