Totori to rely on speed
Wellington Phoenix striker Benjamin Totori is confident he will be able to cope with the physicality of the A-League.
The diminutive Solomon Island's front-man has spent much of his football career playing in New Zealand's domestic competition or in his homeland, aside from an injury-plagued stint with MLS club the Portland Timbers in 2008.
But the fast striker is undaunted about making the step up to the A-League and was one of the standout players at the recent OFC Nations Cup in Honiara, where he scored three times in matches against New Zealand.
"My strength is just my speed and I have to play the ball early before the tackles come in," he said.
"I've got a game that I can beat the physicality of the other teams."
Training every day will also help the 26-year-old improve his strength and stamina and he expects to be in peak physical condition when the Phoenix's season kicks off against Sydney on October 6.
"It's a different level of training from back home and in the New Zealand Football Championship. I'll be ready physically as well. I think I'll be all right."
A noted goalscorer, Totori said gaining a professional contract had been at the back of his mind during the OFC Nations Cup.
"It's a big tournament for Oceania and it's shown live in Asia too. Playing in the tournament I knew New Zealand were in the same pool and in the back of my mind I knew if I played well against New Zealand I might get picked up by other A-League teams or even the Phoenix."
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert, who also coaches the All Whites, said Totori's performances against his side convinced him the striker was worth a contract.
He has signed a one-year deal with an option for a second year.
Totori helped the Solomon Islands to a 1-1 draw against the All Whites in Group B and scored twice in his team's 4-3 loss to Herbert's side in the third-place play-off.
"There's an x-factor to him," Herbert said.
"We had a good long chat post the Solomon (Islands) tournament. He's a lovely kid who is very balanced and mature.
"I think he will be a real handful in the league. You get him on the ball in that front third of the pitch and I think he'll be a handful for anybody in this league, that's for sure.
"We'll take our time with him. Just getting Benji to where we think he needs to be physically that could be a little bit new for him, going through all those medical processes and screenings, but I think he's one of the better signings that we have made."
Totori has taken the number nine shirt worn in recent years by Chris Greenacre, whose coaching future with the club is expected to be finalised later this week.
"He's just working through some of the positions that may suit him," explained Herbert, who confirmed the Englishman would not be involved in a playing capacity.
"The difficulty for Chris is when is the right time to retire. I certainly am not making that decision for him.
"But if he's part of the coaching staff that will be 100 percent what he's doing – unless something dramatic happened."