New Wellington Phoenix signing Benjamin Totori is confident he can handle the step up to the A-League and feels he will be able to cope with the physical nature of the competition, the only fully professional league in this part of the world.The Solomon Islands international signed a deal with the Phoenix after impressing coach Ricki Herbert with some scintillating performances at the OFC Nations Cup, held last month in his homeland, and is looking forward to testing his skills on the region's biggest club stage.
"My strength is my speed and I will have to play the ball early before the tackles come in," he says. "I've got a game that I think can beat the physicality of the other teams."
Totori has played most of his career at amateur or semi-professional level in the Solomon Islands and New Zealand but has some experience of the fulltime game in the form of a brief injury-plagued stint with USA-based club Portland Timbers in 2008.
Adjusting to daily training and other rigours of the professional environment will be some of the challenges he must overcome.
"It's a different level of training to back home and in the New Zealand national league. I will need to be ready physically but I think I'll be all right," he says.
Totori will take on the number nine shirt made vacant by the impending retirement of fellow striker Chris Greenacre, who acted as assistant coach to Herbert last season while still a player and seems certain to move fully into that role this term.
Herbert, who is also in charge of New Zealand's All Whites national team, is pleased to have secured Totori's signature and feels he could spring a few surprises on opposition defences.
"There's an x-factor to him," Herbert says of his new recruit.
"We had a good long chat after the tournament in the Solomons and he's a lovely kid who is very balanced and mature. You get him on the ball in that front third of the pitch and I think he'll be a handful for anybody in the league."