Düsseldorf - After negotiating an awkward first season in German football, Fortuna Düsseldorf attacking midfielder Robbie Kruse is at last delivering on his potential.

Indeed, with four goals and as many assists to his name so far in 2012/13, the 24-year-old is playing a pivotal role in Fortuna's promising bid to beat the drop.

"Massive on work rate"


So what exactly has changed? "I think in Australia I was only really attack-minded and probably shirked my defensive duties a lot," he explained in a recent interview with Australian FourFourTwo.

"Moving here to Germany they're massive on work rate and doing both sides of the game so I definitely worked on my defending and getting my body into good shape. They look at a lot of statistics - how far you run and all that stuff. In Australia I think I was maybe pushing 10km but here I'm over 12km easily every game. It's a little thing but it's definitely helped me a lot."

"Best in the country"


As well as putting in that extra bit of work on the training ground, the survival-hungry fans at Fortuna's ESPRIT Arena have also played their part in Kruse's emergence at Germany's high table.

"I think ours are some of the best in the country," he said. "We're a small club and a few years ago we were in the fourth league. So for us to get into the first league - it's a dream for them as well. They know we're one of the underdogs but we're always giving it our best and if we're doing that they’re really proud. It's a massive honour to run-out in front of our fans."

"Top players"


Clearly, it's all going rather well for the Brisbane native, whose stellar performances have helped put 12 points between Fortuna and the bottom two with nine fixtures left on the Bundesliga calendar. "I've been quite playing well and hopefully I can help Düsseldorf stay in the Bundesliga," he told Sky Sports News HD. Not that he's allowing the hype surrounding his own electryfying displays to go to his head.

"Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think about the players I'm coming up against. I come from Australia and suddenly I'm playing against Bayern Munich," he said. "They're a world class team. It's very humbling; I have the greatest respect for them and feel proud to be playing amongst such top players." He'll have the opportunity to test himself against the runaway leaders once more at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 25.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge