Western Pride defender Hayden Mchenery is hoping to boost his international chances with a temporary move to New Zealand top-tier side Hawkes Bay United.
Mchenery elected to cross the Tasman after coming close to selection for New Zealand’s FIFA U20 World Cup Finals squad back in May.
Despite missing selection, the 20-year old rebounded by securing a PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland Championship medal win with Pride and a place in the competition’s Team of the Year.
Mchenery moves to the Napier-based United after scoring 3 goals in 45 appearances for Pride over the last three seasons, punctuated by a 6-months at Brisbane Roar.
He will be joining a Hawkes Bay side which made the New Zealand Championship finals last season and are managed by ex-Everton striker Brett Angell.
Pride coach Graham Harvey said the time was right for Mchenery to chase his dreams of playing for New Zealand.
“He’s been keen for a year or so to get over there to be on the radar of the New Zealand selectors,” Harvey said.
“Hopefully this will be a good experience for him.”
Mchenery is expected to return to Pride in time for next season, though Harvey said this would be reviewed.
“To get where Hayden wants to be he must play professional football,” Harvey said.
“At the moment the plan is for him to come back in the middle of January but I’ll keep in contact with him and see how he is going.”
Harvey added Pride would not stand in the way if Mchenery’s New Zealand stint lead to an opportunity at higher level.
The Pride gaffer has already challenged Joe Duckworth and Jesse Rigby to work hard next season and make the final step to professional football.
Mchenery, Duckworth and Rigby are among 12 senior players who elected to return to Pride’s Championship-winning squad next season, with another 5 promoted from the youth teams.
The squad reports for pre-season in early November minus Mchenery and departing Englishman Sam Fitzgerald.
Harvey said he had no issues with Mchenery missing the bulk of Pride’s pre-season.
“The good thing for him is to go over there and spend the next 2-3 months in a competitive game environment rather than doing pre-season,” Harvey said.
“This will definitely help him, though he still has to go over there and train and play well.”
Words: Garry McKenzie
Photo: Chris Simpson