Sigmund keen to build

Wellington Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund is keen to build on the success he enjoyed in his first season as a fully-fledged professional.

Wellington Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund is keen to build on the success he enjoyed in his first season as a fully-fledged professional.

Signed by Ricki Herbert on a one-year deal for last season's Hyundai A-League, Sigmund went from being a cover option for the back four to cementing his place in the heart of the defence as the New Zealand side came agonisingly close to a play-off spot.

Now, having earned a new two-year contract and after undergoing off-season hip surgery, the 28-year-old centre back is determined to push on from where he left off as he embarks on his second season in the New Zealand capital.

"Coming in last year I was the guy that no-one knew whether he was going to make it or whether he was going to be good enough," said the former salesman.

"This year I feel like one of the boys and it's a good feeling. But I know that if I step off the pedal then that's when you start having problems."

"Last week [against the Newcastle Jets] I did all right and I was happy with my game but I feel I can do a lot better as well so I'm looking forward to this week [against the Perth Glory]."

Having made 13 starts in 15 appearances last season, Sigmund believes setting himself the challenge of being named player of the year or players' player of the year will ensure his standards don't drop.

"I think everyone has got to set a goal of doing that because it means you're a consistent player and playing well every week and that's what coaches want," he said.

"I just want to play as many games as I can after surgery and keep fit."

Sigmund had mixed feelings about Sunday's opening round loss to the Newcastle Jets.

While obviously disappointed to lose 3-2, he did score his first goal for the club in the Hyundai A-League - heading home a Leo Bertos free-kick - as he and import striker Chris Greenacre got the Phoenix back on level terms after conceding two early goals.

"I wasn't even going to go up for it you know. Then I thought ‘we've got nothing to lose, we're 2-0 down'. The run was just perfect. I saw the ball coming over and I just jumped and as soon as it hit my head it was like ‘that's in'. It was good to get. It's just a shame the way the outcome was," he said.

The main talking point from Sunday's game has been the leaky defence but Sigmund stresses the onus is on every player to mark up, not just the defenders.

"You can't just look at the back four and say 'oh you guys didn't defend well enough'," he said.

"They [Jets] had throw-ins and we should have locked them in the far corner but we let them play out and it was so easy."

"When you're defending at the back if you've got strikers and midfielders all running at you it's not easy to mark."

"This week we'll need to come out of the blocks quick and fast and shut them [Glory] down and don't give them anything."