TROY HEARFIELD came to the Wellington Phoenix as a goalscoring midfielder, but it’s in the club’s last line of defence where he is carving out a big reputation.
The 22-year-old Australian has taken advantage of Manny Muscat’s suspension to make the Phoenix’s right back position his own in recent matches, forcing the Maltese international into a holding midfielder’s role.
Hearfield’s versatility will again be to the fore in the Phoenix’s next two matches, away to Perth Glory on Friday and then Melbourne Victory the following Tuesday.
“All you can do is laugh, really,” Hearfield said of his positional switch from the midfield to the back four. “It’s good for me in a way because I’m getting to play first-team football. I did come to the Phoenix as a midfielder but I’m seeing the benefits of being able to play across all areas of the park. It’s a plus to my game to be able to play in several positions.”
While Hearfield is carving out a big reputation as a gutsy fullback, his attacking mentality remains strong and he has earned plaudits for his willingness to get forward.
“Being a former goalscorer helps me with that mentality. I love to score goals and I love to run at players and beat them – that’s a big part of my game. I enjoy getting in and around the box and getting some strikes off.”
Hearfield said he initially questioned coach Ricki Herbert’s wisdom when put into the back four.
“I didn’t really understand Ricki’s decision to start with but he spoke to me about it and urged me to give it a go. Now I’ve found I’ve taken a liking to it and that I have something to offer the team. That’s the mark of a good coach – Ricki saw in me an ability I didn’t initially think I had and backed me to play in a different role and to do well in that role. Thumbs up to Ricki for seeing that in me and backing me.”
Stoked to be playing regular first-team football, Hearfield was also thrilled to re-sign with the Phoenix for next season.
“The club’s looked after me and I’m happy here. Ricki’s shown faith in me and I’m willing to do whatever I can to help make the club successful. It’s very promising for us at the moment and to have the core of the current squad coming back is great for the future.
“The guys here are amazing and to have a great team you need to build a great team. Just look at the guys who have come to the club and want to stay here – we’ve got a great bunch, the morale’s high and I’m stoked to be part of it.”