You can't help but feel buying into the "Kiwi Made" brand is a great concept but what do you do when you don't have the goods in your backyard?

While the talent is sprouting in the nursery, teams have no choice but to import quality players from overseas.

When Western Suburbs kick off against the Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers at 2pm at Park Island in round five of the Central League match tomorrow, it'll be hard to miss the aura around the Wellingtonians who have mastered the art of growing home talent.

Win or lose, you somehow get the impression Western Suburbs hit the highway back to the capital city content in the knowledge they are better for the economy of football in the country while the Bill Robertson-coached Blues tend to have a lion's share of foreigners making up their squad.


"They've obviously got the link with the Ole Academy which gives them a conveyor belt of talented players to select from in a big city where large numbers are linked in," says Robertson before he caught a flight to Noumea, New Caledonia, on Thursday as part of Team Wellington to play Hienghene Sports in the O-League semifinals from 2pm tomorrow.

"We're, unfortunately, in small Hawke's Bay so it's a slightly different foundation, I suppose," he says.

The Rovers are Central League defending champions and have kept an unblemished five wins from as many outings so far this season to find a perch on the top of the table with 15 points.

Western Suburbs also are undefeated but have registered two stalemates to sit third on the table on 11 points, a point behind Wellington Olympic who have four wins and a loss and play Stop Out Sports Club at 2.30pm today.

Nevertheless, Rovers skipper Fergus Neil and his men will be mindful that Western Suburbs' draws still equate to no defeats and speak volumes of their mental fortitude, especially when they come up against arch-rivals Blues.

A side that employs a ticky-tacker style of play, Western Suburbs were only one of two teams to beat the Rovers in what was a remarkable 2018 season where the champions won 19 of their 22 matches and drew one. Waterside Karori also had slayed the Blues.

Robertson believes good things take time, alluding to the injection and growth of poster boy Karan Mandair who returns to the midfield after playing in an Indian tournament in Australia in the previous round.

Fellow 18-year-old defenders Kaeden Atkins and Nick Yorke, of Hastings Boys' High School, who made his debut against Wairarapa United on Good Friday, also are examples of a slow but calculated pathway to inject homegrown talent here.


"We're obviously developing those young players and looking to give them opportunities so there's a slightly different pressure for us, I suppose."

The Western Suburbs squad are teeming with homegrown talent who play an attractive brand of football but also have shown consistency with a Central league crown in 2017. Photo/file
The Western Suburbs squad are teeming with homegrown talent who play an attractive brand of football but also have shown consistency with a Central league crown in 2017. Photo/file

Robertson says Suburbs have been consistent performers for the last couple of years and their 2017 crown endorses that.

"Week in, week out they notch up wins and play right down to the wire so they're a very strong team and started this season in a very similar fashion."

However, he hastens to add the Blues devise their own standards and aspire to them as a team who focus on their processes, in and out of possession.

Conceding sloppy goals and a wasteful conversion rate from creating scoring chances to put the games to bed are areas he wants his men to polish with more control and composure.

In his absence, Robertson salutes the input of assistant coach Stu James and the support stable.

"You know, he's stepped in now and then when I've been away previously and I think he';s got a pretty good record although I'm not up with the stats."

He said they had worked on the tactical aspects during the week and game days was for the players to show their worth.

"If things go to plan then Stu can just sit back and enjoy it but, I suppose, he's in charge with anything that needs to be adjusted."

Robertson is expecting testing conditions in Noumea with the heat and humidity.

However, he said getting there a couple of days before the match gave them the opportunity to acclimatise.

"The plan is it's a one-off game so we've just got to follow through to get to the final and then go from there," he said, recalling their previous encounter with Hienghene Sports a couple of years when they had qualified at the top of their pool.

"It'll be a tough game in front of their big crowd so it'll be difficult conditions but we have a lot of players who've played O-League in hostile environments before and have experienced the travel."