JEREMY Brockie is keen for his return to the Hunter, but the Wellington Phoenix midfielder does not feel he has a point to prove against the Newcastle Jets at Weston on Saturday.
Brockie was unwanted at the end of last season despite being the Jets’ equal leading goal scorer with nine and the club having blocked a lucrative late-season move to China.
Wellington acted swiftly to sign the All Whites attacker to a three-year deal, reuniting the 24-year-old with his national team coach, Ricki Herbert.
Playing on the right side of midfield, Brockie marked his debut for the Phoenix with two goals in a 4-0 win over state league opponents Lower Hutt in Phoenix’s opening trial.
He added another double in a 9-0 rout of Miramar Rangers on Tuesday night.
The first big test – for Brockie and Phoenix – is against the Jets.
‘‘I enjoyed my couple of seasons at Newcastle and it was disappointing the way things ended,’’ Brockie told the Herald.
‘‘I am looking forward to going there and catching up with the boys and some good friends I made off the park.
‘‘But I don’t feel like I have anything to prove.
‘‘From what I have read, they have played quite a few games and are probably a bit more advanced than what we are.
‘‘They have a young, fit squad and I’m sure they will run for the 90 minutes and pressure us all over the park.
‘‘It will be a good test and one I’m looking forward to.’’
Brockie’s move across the ditch has been coupled with a positional switch.
He spent most of his time at the Jets at the point of the attack or in a wide role in a front three.
Under Herbert he is being used on the right of a flat four midfield behind a front two of Paul Ifill and Solomon Islands youngster Benjamin Totori.
‘‘It is quite an attacking midfield role and Ricki has given me a bit of a licence to get forward,’’ Brockie said yesterday.
‘‘He wants me to make runs from midfield, and I got on the end of a couple of passes from Paul Ifill against Lower Hutt.
‘‘It has been good to work with him.
‘‘Hopefully the more games we play, the better the combination will get.
‘‘The other positive about playing midfield is that I can also put the ball into the box. ‘‘That is one of my strengths, crossing.
‘‘But I’m always adaptable to move up front if needed as well.’’
Before last year’s haul, Brockie had scored seven goals in four seasons and 47games.
‘‘I set the standard for myself last season with some good performances and am looking to build on that this year,’’ Brockie said.
‘‘Last season was the first time I have played every single game and was injury-free.
‘‘I’m working hard in pre-season to make sure I get my body right and am able to back up.’’
It is an important year on a couple of fronts for the affable New Zealander, whose wife, Jess, is due to give birth to their first child in February.
Phoenix are due to arrive in Sydney tomorrow and will travel up and back on match day, because they leave for a four-game tour of India on Sunday.
‘‘It will be a different experience,’’ Brockie said.
‘‘We have four games in the space of 10 days, so we are definitely starting to ramp up our pre-season.’’
The clash on Saturday will be the Jets’ first against A-League opposition, following victories over Broadmeadow Magic (3-1), Canberra Rockets (9-1), Northern NSW Select (6-0 and 2-1) and Rockdale City (1-0).
The match, which will kick off at 5pm, will be Newcastle’s last effort before a week’s break and coach Gary van Egmond is expected to field his strongest side.