Sigmund calls on Trans-Tasman rivalry to be reignited

Retired Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand All Whites star Ben Sigmund called for a renewal of on-field hostilities between the Kiwis and Australia, saying it had been far too long since the neighbouring countries last played.

Ben Sigmund

Source: Getty Images

Sigmund, who has just had a book title Fully Committed about his career published, said he was concerned that the longer it went on without the All Whites and Socceroos doing  battle the less likely it would be that they would clash again.

It is coming up to five years since Australia and New Zealand last met. That game was at Adelaide Oval on June 5, 2011, when the Socceroos won 3-0 in front of 21,281 people.

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In 2010, the two teams played a pulsating match that was a warm-up for their respective World Cup finals campaigns. A crowd of 55,659 was at the MCG to see Australia win 2-1 through a last-minute goal from Brett Holman.

The two countries obviously used to meet regularly when they were both in the Oceania Confederation and clashing in World Cup qualifying matches, but since Australia moved into Asia the rivalry has been allowed to become idle.

But Sigmund was adamant the rivalry was too great to allow it to remain that way. 

"There is a lot of talk over here in New Zealand about trying to get a trans-Tasman thing going again," Sigmund said. "I played for the All Whites in those last two games against the Socceroos and I talk about the experience in my book.

"I think Australia and New Zealand should be playing regularly, 100 per cent, and it would benefit both countries. It would be fantastic, the same as the Test matches in rugby union and league. The fans would love it.

"There's a great rivalry there and that will never change. I don't think there would ever be such a thing as a 'friendly' between Australia and New Zealand. There's no way you want to lose to the Aussies.



"You're friends with a lot of the players because you play against a lot of them in the A-League, but once it's game on, it's game on. It would be fantastic if we could revive it and it would be easy to promote. There's a great appetite for it."

Sigmund, who recently had an emotional farewell from the A-League with Wellington, is about to embark on a tour of New Zealand to promote his book, which he wrote with New Zealand journalist Jason Pine.

"The book went on sale on Friday," Sigmund said. "I'm so proud of it. It's available in bookstores, but it's also available through my website, bensigmund.co.nz, and that's probably the easiest way to get a copy, whether it's over here or from Australia.

"I'm promoting it online and I've put a two-week book tour together that kicks off next Friday. We start at the bottom of the south island, at Dunedin, and then we go to Christchurch, which is my hometown, and we pretty much cover the whole country and end up in Auckland.

"We've got an All Stars game in Auckland with players I played with at the Phoenix and a few celebrities and we've got a gala black-tie dinner there as well, with Star City. It's going to be a great couple of weeks."

Sigmund said his aim was to make the book much more than a diary of his footballing exploits and more about his life and the level of commitment he came to realise it took to be successful in your chosen field.



"I love the book, I'm really happy with it," he said. "So far most people I've spoken to who have read it said they really enjoyed it. A few people have told me they read it in one sitting, they couldn't put it down.

"I've tried to make it enjoyable and wide-ranging, so that it's not just about football. It's not 'we won this game 1-0', it's about my life's journey and the experiences that go along with that and what I've learned about life and how to best succeed at what you're trying to do."


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4 min read
Published 7 May 2016 at 12:48pm
By Greg Prichard
Source: SBS