Brockie tipped to fire Phoenix

While fans of the Hyundai A-League have been salivating at the international superstars joining the competition, it's the signing of a lesser-known familiar face which has Wellington coach Ricki Herbert most excited for the new season.

While fans of the A-League have been salivating at the international superstars joining the competition, it's the signing of a lesser-known familiar face which has Wellington coach Ricki Herbert most excited for the new season.

He may not have the same star appeal as Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey but Herbert believes the acquisition of Jeremy Brockie may just turn the club from finals certainties to title contenders.

Of course 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 FC, North Queensland 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 told Sportal about the capture 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 the 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.

Herbert said Ifill, who has been battling knee and ankle injuries in the pre-season, should be available for the match but is unlikely to start.

The two clubs met on four occasions last season with the Phoenix winning all four, including in the opening week of the finals.