Jeremy Brockie has found his home in more ways than one.
After a nomadic A-League career, including stints with the New Zealand Knights, Sydney FC, North Queensland Fury and the Newcastle Jets, the 24-year-old finally has job security in the form of a three-year contract with the Wellington Phoenix.
The All White has moved into a new house with wife Jess, a stone's throw from the club's training base at Newtown Park.
And after being deployed all over the field in recent seasons - as a winger, in the midfield, and even as a fullback with the national team - Brockie is also ready to settle down with a regular position on the pitch.
Used as a striker throughout the pre-season, he has scored 18 goals and will start up front with Stein Huysegems in the Phoenix's season opener against Sydney at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
"I was at Sydney a long time ago now so I'm really happy to be here in Wellington with a good bunch of boys," Brockie said after scoring a first-half hat-trick in Saturday's 7-1 pre-season rout of Manawatu in Palmerston North.
"I'm enjoying myself on the pitch and I'm happy away from the pitch too.
"When you're an attacking player and you're scoring goals you're always on a high. So I can't wait for the season to start, I've been hanging out for it for the last three or four weeks now. I know there will be a big crowd on Saturday night."
Brockie said he'd never experienced such a rich vein of form but felt it was a natural progression from his breakout nine-goal campaign with the Jets.
With the club's leading scorer Paul Ifill preferring to play as a winger this season, Brockie was happy to shoulder the burden in front of goal.
His rapport with former Belgium international Huysegems, who scored his first goal for the club on Saturday, was "slowly growing".
"He's a good player, he's got very tidy feet and knows how to bring other players into the game, he's a smart player too. So hopefully if I make the runs, he can provide me with the ball and vice versa. It's not going to be easy for defenders to know that I'm the one making the runs or he's the one coming short to get the ball."
Sydney's capture of Alessandro Del Piero has handed the Phoenix a perfect opportunity to impress in front of a big home crowd on Saturday.
The stands will include about "50 or 60" of Brockie's family and friends from Nelson "so hopefully I can put one in the back of the net".
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert declared himself happy with Saturday's game at Memorial Park, in particular the performances of Huysegems and two other goalscorers, Louis Fenton and Ricardo Clarke.
“Louis was outstanding, Stein could have had two or three more than the one he scored and was impressive in his movement and touch," Herbert said.
“Ricardo is still settling in but looked good on the ball and took his goal superbly. For me the most important thing was to get more minutes under the belt for everyone, including the young players."
Ifill played the second half in his return from knee and ankle injuries and came through unscathed. He is likely to come off the bench against Sydney before returning to a depleted starting XI in round two against Melbourne Heart.
- © Fairfax NZ News