Sigmund, Phoenix back at 'home'

One of Christchurch's favourite footballing sons, All Whites defender Ben Sigmund, is reveling in a return to what is fast becoming the Wellington Phoenix's home away from home.

One of Christchurch's favourite footballing sons, All Whites defender Ben Sigmund, is reveling in a return to what is fast becoming the Wellington Phoenix's home away from home.

Ryan Nelsen, the Blackburn Rovers captain, is Christchurch's most famous export but Sigmund is forging his own reputation on and off the pitch.

Sigmund made a big impression in his debut season with the Phoenix in 2008/09 when it seemed his dreams of cracking the professional scene were fading away.

The chance to return to where it all started is one Sigmund would never turn down and he is back in New Zealand's garden city for the Phoenix's match against a Mainland Football Selection XI on Sunday.

"It's always nice to go home and see everyone that you know and to catch up with friends and family that you haven't seen for a while," Sigmund said.

"The club and I have always had fantastic support in Christchurch and that's certain to continue on Sunday."

The Phoenix drew a crowd of almost 6500 for a fixture against the same opposition 12 months ago and more than 5000 Christchurch fans were out in force for a pre-season encounter with the Queensland Roar in 2007/08.

Sigmund, who played 60 minutes in a 1-all draw with the Melbourne Victory last weekend, is hoping for a solid hit-out on Sunday as he continues to bounce back from fitness setbacks that saw him play a limited part in the All Whites' Confederations Cup campaign.

"I'm still struggling a little bit, to be honest. My flu's gone but I'm still feeling a bit sluggish getting back from the hip surgery I had off-season," he said.

"My turning's a bit slow at the moment, I feel a bit like an old cart-horse, but hopefully I can get 70-75 minutes at QEII on Sunday and work on things from there."

Several frontline Phoenix players missed the clash with the Victory in Queenstown but most will be back on deck in Christchurch.

Due to return to the field are skipper Andrew Durante, defensive midfielder Jon McKain and new English import, striker Chris Greenacre.

"Now it's about putting the team together and working on our combinations," Sigmund said.

"If we can get a team out there that's roughly our first XI and work on that it'll be good. There will be guys coming back who may only play half-an-hour or so, but if we can build on from where we left off in Queenstown it'll be pleasing."