Michael Burgess picks out three key points from the All Whites' 2-0 win over Fiji.
Thomas turns it on
Ryan Thomas was simply superb on Tuesday night, in a rare appearance on home soil. The attacking midfielder has been one of our best achievers - in any code - over the last few years - carving out a successful career in Holland with PEC Zwolle, including two goals in a 5-1 over Ajax in the Dutch Cup final. But most of his achievements have flown under the radar. Time zones don't help, and the Eredivisie isn't televised. Now local fans will understand why he is so highly rated in Holland. Thomas was the standout player on the field at Westpac Stadium, often at the forefront of New Zealand's best moves. Aside from his two goals - which were both well taken efforts - he also knitted together an intricate first half move with Clayton Lewis that flummoxed the Fijians and should have resulted in a goal. Thomas popped up on both flanks and down the middle, and did his share of tracking back. He's the complete player, and should only get better.
Hudson's renovation almost complete
Anthony Hudson's three-and-half year renovation of the All Whites is nearly there. Though some will question the amount of players he has called up - with a few unusual selections among the 54 - there is no doubt the squad is in a much healthier state than it was at the end of the last World Cup cycle against Mexico. There is genuine competition for places across all positions and no chance of unattached players being selected for the big games ahead in 2017, like Jeremy Christie and Tony Lochhead were four years ago for the clash at the Azteca Stadium.
Lewis looks the goods
Clayton Lewis came of age over the recent series with Fiji, capping off a stellar six months for the 20-year-old. He impressed for Auckland City at the Club World Cup last December and was a key part of their run to another domestic minor premiership. And against Fiji he gave his most complete international performances yet. On Tuesday night in Wellington Lewis demonstrated his quick feet and even quicker brain, with several neat moves from midfield. Though other youngsters like Matt Ridenton, Alex Rufer and Louis Fenton have had more time in the spotlight, Lewis seems to have the most potential.