Phoenix signing’s unique first interview: ‘He’ll contribute as a leader’

Jack Duncan spoke to the media for the first time after joining Wellington Phoenix and the experience goalkeeper did so while on his belated honeymoon in Greece.

The Phoenix announced Duncan’s arrival on Friday, with the 30-year-old making the move to Wellington following his departure from Isuzu UTE A-League rivals Newcastle Jets.

Duncan, who has made 104 A-Leagues appearances – for both the Jets and Perth Glory – since debuting in 2011, arrives for the 2023-24 season in wake of the departure of All Whites keeper Oli Sail to Perth Glory.

He was not in New Zealand to take questions from media, instead on a Zoom call from Europe.

INS AND OUTS: Isuzu UTE A-League 2023-24 Transfer Centre

“Me and my wife’s honeymoon from a couple of years ago that we had booked in during COVID times, it got put on hold,” Duncan told reporters.

“We have a 10-month old baby with us that we had not planned to have when we initially had this holiday booked a couple of years ago. A little bit different to what we expected but still enjoyable nonetheless.”

When asked if negotiations had taken place while on honeymoon, Duncan replied: “It’s been in the pipeline for a little bit.

“I probably have to find someone who can help me sign a stat dec for my contract in Greece.

“But nah, most of the negotiations have taken place in Australia. I’ve only recently got over here. It’s interesting times but good to have things finally sorted, and now I can enjoy the rest of my holiday.”

In 2022-23, Duncan featured in 16 matches for the Jets and had the second best save percentage in the competition last season behind Western Sydney Wanderers shot-stopper Lawrence Thomas.

Duncan is expected to compete for the number one jersey alongside youngster Alex Paulsen, who has been Sail’s back-up throughout the last couple of seasons.

“We now have two ‘keepers from different ends of the spectrum,” Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano said.

“Jack is an experienced ‘keeper and AP (Paulsen) is a young and up and coming ‘keeper with a lot to prove. 

“If you’re the experienced ‘keeper you need a young ‘keeper pushing you through and if you’re the young ‘keeper you need someone experienced to push you as well. 

“I’ve mentioned to both of them that they’ll get the opportunity to establish themselves as the no. 1. It’s really going to come down to how they train and how they perform in the environment.

“Our goalkeeper coach Ruben Parker is going to have competitive trainings with two professionals that will push each other. I think both of them can step up and meet the challenge.

“I’m really excited for Jack because he’s a good kid with the ambition to do very well. He’s still got fire to be successful and push on.

“I think he’ll be really good for the changing room, and he’ll contribute as a leader as well. 

“More importantly he’s going to fit the environment and what we want to do next season.”

Duncan said he’s looking forward to the “change of scenery”, after spending the best part of 13 years at the Jets, with stints in Saudi Arabia, Denmark and Perth sprinkled in between his three tenures at the Hunter.

“That’s all you can ask for as a footballer to get the opportunity to put your best foot forward and earn your place in the team,” Duncan said in a statement.

“Hopefully I can do that over pre-season and come round one be between the sticks for the Phoenix.

“I look forward to getting over to Wellington and getting stuck in with Alex, the other ‘keepers and all the boys.”

Duncan is Wellington’s second new signing this off-season, joining Mohamed Al-Taay who also arrived from the Jets.