Nathan Burns has hailed the influence of Ernie Merrick on his career only days after the coach signed a new long-term contract with Wellington Phoenix.
Burns has revitalised his career since Merrick lured him to the Phoenix in June last year, netting 12 A-League goals to earn a Socceroos call-up and play a part in Australia’s Asian Cup triumph.
It’s been a whirlwind period for the 26-year-old who fell completely out of the national team scene during a six-year overseas spell in Greece and South Korea.
Merrick, who inked a new three-year deal with Wellington last week, has been a key influence for Burns.
“He’s brought that goal scoring part into my game which was probably lacking,” Burns told FourFourTwo.
The 2014-15 season is comfortably the most prolific in the career of Burns, who plays as a winger or second striker,
As a youngster he burst on to the scene at Adelaide United but only netted nine goals over two seasons, while during his best campaign in Greece he scored eight times for Kerkyra. Merrick's influence is obvious.
“He’s had a good record of attacking football, so it’s good to get the knowledge off him,” Burns added about the former Melbourne Victory coach.
“Being an attacking player it was a good opportunity to come in. He has taught me a lot in the last 10 months.
“There’s a different style of my game that I’m playing, but I have to keep going.”
Burns, who is contracted until the end of next season but has been linked with a move away, is delighted to see the club also re-sign assistant coach Chris Greenacre to a three-year deal, an indication of their clear direction.
“It’s good from a team perspective,” Burns said.
“The club know what they want and they know what direction they are heading.
“This whole starting line-up is basically a new team. Roy Krishna, Roly Bonevacia and myself up front and Michael McGlinchey and Alex Rodriguez in midfield, it’s our first year.
“If we keep building on what we have, we will just keep on getting better.
“Come the finals next year, we should be even stronger.”comments