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Phoenix squads, fully vaccinated, leaving home for two new bases in NSW

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The Wellington Phoenix can now confirm its upcoming travel schedule for its Men’s and Women’s A-League squads, in preparation for the start of the 2021/22 A-League season in Australia.

Players, coaching and backroom staff from both squads are now assembled in Wellington, and will travel together to New South Wales (NSW) via charter plane – which will also be transporting the NZ Breakers basketball squad – on Monday.

As a condition of overseas travel and to ensure ease of travel within Australia, all players and staff across all the squads are fully vaccinated and tested prior to departure. And thanks to the efforts of APL, the Club has been granted an exemption by the NSW Government and Border Force to enter NSW without needing to quarantine.

Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome says that it has been a ‘massive logistical effort’ to get the squads into Australia, with multiple organisations working together to make it possible.

“We couldn’t have achieved this without working together with others to make this all happen; so the Club extends its thanks to APL, Wellington Airport, the NZ Breakers and the Australian NBL, and of course our partners in Sydney and Wollongong,” says Dome.

Men’s Squad

Coach Ufuk Talay and his coaching staff will travel from Wellington to New South Wales alongside the current NZ-based men’s players; James McGarry, Tim Payne, Ben Old, David Ball, Jaushua Sotirio, Alex Rufer, Louis Fenton, Callan Elliot, Ben Waine, Sam Sutton, Oliver Sail, Joshua Laws, Clayton Lewis, Kurtis Mogg, George Ott, Alex Paulsen and Gary Hooper.

Upon arrival in NSW, the Men’s team will be housed in accommodation located in Chatswood and will train at the nearby Valentines Sports Park. They will be joined at training by Nicholas Pennington – who has now secured entry into Australia from Italy – and Luca Prso, who returns to Australia following his Socceroos duty.

Both Reno Piscopo and Matthew Bozinovski will travel from Melbourne to Sydney to join the team, giving coach Ufuk Talay a full 21-man squad heading into the Australian leg of their pre-season.

The Club can now confirm that during the time it is based in Australia, it will play all of its Men’s home matches at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.

Women’s Squad

For the women’s side, Gemma Lewis and her coaching staff will accompany a 12-player squad from New Zealand into New South Wales; Lily Alfeld, Chloe Knott, Ava Pritchard, Grace Wisnewski, Grace Jale, Kate Taylor, Kelli Brown, Mackenzie Barry, Saskia Vosper, Zoe McMeeken, Charlotte Lancaster and Alyssa Whinham.

These players will be housed in Wollongong for their A-League season, and will be joined by Australian-based players Te Reremoana Walker, Cushla Rue and Isabel Gomez for training. The remaining Australian-based players will be announced shortly.

While in Australia, the A-League Women’s team will both be based in Wollongong and will play its home matches at WIN Stadium.

Dome says that the Club is delighted to be returning to Wollongong during its stay in Australia.

“The prospect of returning to Wollongong for a period of time is made easier for us thanks to the support we continue to receive from local sponsors and partners.

“MCR continue to be an outstanding partner for us – dating back to last season – and the amazing support they’re shown us is definitely a key reason for us to return to the Wollongong area; also the relationships we’ve built with WIN Stadium, Wollongong City Council, Football South Coast, Wollongong Wolves and more.

“What makes it even more special for us to that we’ll be bringing not one, but two teams into the ‘Gong this time around with our A-League Women’s side basing themselves there for the season – so we hope locals will come out and support both teams during our team in Wollongong.”

Dome also says that the team is progressing with plans to return to New Zealand in January.

“We’re awaiting an updated draw from APL which confirms when we can return to New Zealand for our home matches; the Club is confident that we’ll be back on home soil sometime in the new year.

“We want to build upon the incredible success of our two matches last season in Wellington and Auckland, and reward our fans for their patience and support over the past few years.”