Early kickoff resolves Phoenix-All Whites dispute
SAM WORTHINGTON AND CHRIS BARCLAY
Saturday's A-League game in Christchurch is set to be brought forward by half an hour after the Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand Football struck a deal over the availability of their All Whites players.
An announcement is expected today but it is understood Perth Glory's Shane Smeltz and the Phoenix's six All Whites will take the AMI Stadium turf at a new kickoff time of 5pm.
The players will then rush to Christchurch Airport for their 8.40pm flight to Auckland where a 10.45pm connection to Los Angeles awaits.
The All Whites spend two nights in camp in Los Angeles before heading to Mexico City for the November 14 World Cup qualifier.
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert was happy for any player to play for their club as long as they reported to Los Angeles on November 9 (US time).
"It's really, really simple," Herbert said.
"There's a consistent approach across all clubs. All we've done is protected the 10th, that's the date that we want the training to start, everybody to be ready for the morning session. I've had eight years of the players turning up in exactly the same condition. Nutrition-wise, hydration-wise, the class of travel that they'll be in [business], they'll turn up to LA OK. Psychologically they should be fine, they've done it for years now."
Herbert said West Ham United were investigating the possibility of paying for a private jet to fly Winston Reid to Los Angeles following their Premier League clash with Norwich City.
Fellow England-based All Whites Tommy Smith and Chris Wood could potentially hitch a ride on the same flight after their games.
"If they can make it work and they're in LA on the 9th then I have no issue with that," Herbert said.
Phoenix striker Jeremy Brockie said he was keen to play against Perth in Christchurch even if it meant a mad dash to Auckland.
"The importance of the game is what New Zealand Football are most concerned about so I can see it from their way as well," Brockie said.
"We're professional players, we'll just deal with it."
Brockie said the All Whites would not hold back against the Glory in an attempt to avoid injury.
"Every time I go on the pitch and try and play my best. I never go into a game with that mindset."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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