Wellington Phoenix sign two players with new recruit in ‘complete shock’

Wellington Phoenix have reinforced their Liberty A-League squad with the signings of Tiana Jaber and Helena Errington.

Australian and ex-Western United and Newcastle Jets defender Jaber, 23, arrives as a replacement for Marisa van der Meer, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old New Zealand youth international Errington has signed a scholarship contract with the third-placed Phoenix.

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“Tiana’s very athletic, strong and powerful and a good one-one-one defender,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said. “She can play at centre back and at fullback and gives us that balance back in the squad.

“It was really important that we brought someone in that has A-League experience. Tiana’s 23, which is a good age because she’s had a few years playing in the A-League, but she’s also still improving and progressing.

“She missed out on getting a contract at the start of the season with other clubs so she’ll be hungry to show what she can do to get back into the A-League.

“Helena’s a skilful attacking midfielder who has the capacity to score goals, dribble past opponents and create.

“She suits the style of play we are implementing here and having worked with her in the academy I know exactly what to expect from her and what she is capable of. 

“We’re blessed with these young attacking midfielders in New Zealand at the moment and Helena’s going to add real depth to the squad in what is such an important position.”

Jaber last played for Western United in the Liberty A-League, as an injury-replacement player in February 2023.

She previously spent two years with Newcastle Jets, scoring a memorable goal during the 2021-22, having had her first taste of A-Leagues football at Western Sydney Wanderers in 2019-20.

Jaber described the move to Wellington as a “complete shock”.

“I heard the Phoenix needed a player and was asked if I was willing to drop everything, make the move and go over and help the girls, and I just jumped at it,” said Jaber, who had been playing for Bankstown City in NPLW NSW.

“It’s an opportunity you can’t say no to. It’s a really, really exciting opportunity to join the Phoenix.”

Errington has already been training with the Phoenix, having recently returned from a stint with Portuguese giants Sporting CP.

The teenager earned a move to Portugal after she was named MVP at the OFC Under-19 Championship in Fiji in July.

“It was a super great experience on and off the field,” Errington said. “The football was amazing, the players are very technical and there was great coaching as well.”

On Temple’s Phoenix, she added: “I really like what he’s doing with the team and I’m excited to start playing.

“I’m certainly a very technical player. I’m very composed on the ball, I have good vision to make through balls in behind, and I also like to dribble and take on players.”