Phoenix recently managed to bring in 17-year-old Alex Rufer on three-year contract to the club. Rufer has been one of the most talked about youngsters in New Zealand over the last few months.

He has received public backing from New Zealand national team manager Ricki Herbert. Herbert has said that he was at Phoenix when he saw Rufer train with the club. He has seen enough of the player to suggest that he will be something big in the future. He has recalled how Rufer demonstrated incredible technique, skill, and pace in the training sessions.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has also said that he is extremely impressed with the 17-year-old. He believes that the player is capable of playing in the A-League from this season itself. After the arrival of Rufer, Phoenix have 19 players in their squad. This is just one below the minimum requirements for the club. Merrick reckons that the club will be able to do well in the Championship as a result of a strong squad at their disposal. Rufer was on trial at the club recently and he has impressed the manager sufficiently during this time to earn a three-year contract.

Phoenix recently had a pre-season friendly match against Central Coast, who are the defending champions, cancelled after the opposition decided to pull out.

“I know him well, technically a good boy, good pace, strong, great attitude, son of Shane Rufer. So yeah I wish him all the best too. Good young Kiwi boy, and hopefully this works for him as well,” said the national team manager Herbert. Ernie Merrick is one of the experienced coaches in the league in the coming season. He has coached the likes of Melbourne Victory in the past, while he has also won numerous league titles in his career as well.