Ricki Herbert is hopeful the capture of Jeremy Brockie can help Wellington Phoenix make a serious impression on the A-League in 2012/13.
He may not have the same star appeal as Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey, who have joined Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets respectively, but Herbert believes the acquisition of Brockie may just turn the club from finals certainties to title contenders.
Brockie is no stranger to the A-League having made his debut back in 2006 at the now-defunct New Zealand Knights, before further stints at Sydney, North Queensland Fury and Newcastle.
But the 24-year-old attacker has decided to return home this season, and Phoenix are the lucky beneficiaries.
“I think he’s delighted to be back,” Herbert said of the New Zealand international.
“He’s sensed since he’s been there that it’s a very culturally strong place and he’s thriving on it.
“He’s scored 18 goals in the pre-season and has been striking the ball really well.
“We’re just hoping that continues on. He seems settled and when that’s the case it tends to help your game.
“I’m excited by what he might bring to us and I think the fans will be as well.”
With striker Chris Greenacre hanging up his boots to join the coaching staff, much of the attacking burden will fall on Brockie and Paul Ifill to get the goals for the Phoenix this campaign.
But Herbert is adamant his side is no longer only reliant on a couple of players to fill the scoring breach, with thrust from other areas a key reason he believes the Phoenix can challenge for the premiership.
“In the past we’ve relied a lot on Ify and Tim Brown (retired) for goals but there’s a lot more variety there now for us,” he said.
“I think the circulation of people contributing in that area is going to help.
“Jeremy (Brockie) scored nine in a (Jets) team that didn’t make the finals last year.
“If he continues on like that and (Ifill) gets a few and one or two of the young guys step up then there’s no reason why we can’t go all the way.
“We’re always written off but that’s not a bad thing for us.”
The Phoenix open their A-League season with a home clash against Sydney FC on Saturday.