Burns wants to help take Phoenix to the top

JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014
Nathan Burns
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
JUST LANDED: Nathan Burns is all smiles as he dons a Wellington Phoenix shirt for the first time.

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Nathan Burns has rolled into town looking for a slice of luck and a game of football.

Slight of build and modest by nature, Burns comes to the Wellington Phoenix with a reputation for being able to beat a man and create.

He has two years on his contract but much less to win over the Wellington fans.

He threw on a team shirt and answered all that was asked of him upon his arrival yesterday, including the obvious - why would a 26 year-old former Socceroo cross the Tasman to play for the lowly Phoenix.

"We are going to make it a strong side, hopefully," Burns said.

"When I was playing for Adelaide we were always top one or two. Before I left Newcastle we were sitting around third or whatever, so hopefully I'm coming to a strong team and we hope to be in the top six this year."

Burns could be blown over by a strong southerly, equally he looks as fit as they come.

If he gets the choice under coach Ernie Merrick, Burns would play "in behind" the strikers or on the wing.

Either way it seems Merrick and Burns have had an eye on each other for a few years.

"To be honest, I think I have spoken to Ernie every year for the last four years.

"I've always admired the way he coaches. He is relaxed and very calm. I've never liked coaches who yell and scream on game day because they have all week to prepare. On game day you have to let the footballers play.

"I respect his methods. I hear from others that his training sessions are very intense and kept to a high level."

Mostly, Burns just wants stability after a career that has gone Adelaide, AEK in Greece, Incheon in South Korea, Newcastle in Sydney but been hampered by injury and club politics along the way.

"I have a lot of expectation on myself.

"I bring something different. I don't compare myself with (Carlos) Hernandez or anyone like that. Hopefully I can bring my style to the team.

"I'm agile. I can play several different positions. We'll see how Ernie sets the team up and hopefully I can adapt.

"I don't pump others up, I go about my things."

Burns grew up in country New South Wales and says he liked his rugby early on. These days he has a girlfriend at university in Sydney and likes his NBA basketball.

So, Merrick might have a highly motivated, low maintenance new signing on his hands.

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- The Dominion Post

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