Almost 30 youngsters have trialled with the A-League club this summer.
Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is elated with the “remarkable” standard of young talent coming through the ranks in New Zealand.
The 60-year-old is a fierce advocate of developing players for the future and has had almost 30 trialists pass through the doors and onto the field at the club’s Newtown Park training complex this summer.
A large proportion of those were young Kiwi’s with Alex Rufer, a 17-year-old graduate of the Christchurch-based Asia Pacific Football Academy, impressing sufficiently enough to earn a three-year professional contract at the Westpac Stadium.
Rufer will link-up with international team-mate and under-20’s captain Luke Adams in Wellington, with Merrick impressed by the quality of the locally sourced talent he came into contact with and hinted that hinting that he could look to bring more to the club.
“The standard of the youngsters we’ve had through is remarkable,” Merrick told Football Australia. “What is also impressive is how coachable they are.
“Some of the youngsters we’ve had for just two or three weeks have improved immensely and that is a characteristic that is very important.
“It is satisfying for a head coach to see how quickly they improve and to see their willingness to do so.
“As long as I am here we will be constantly searching for new blood and new talent to bring through.”