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TOMMY RELISHING NEW ZEALAND RETURN

23 March 2017

But he accepts he may have to win over Whites fans after year out

Tommy Smith is relishing putting the New Zealand shirt on again but accepts he may have to win over some of the All Whites’ support. 

The Town defender put a hold on his international career for a year to concentrate on his Club commitments but following a chat with manager Anthony Hudson, he is back in their squad for the World Cup qualifying double header against Fiji.

“The situation behind closed doors with New Zealand has changed,” Tommy told the Club website.

“There were a few people in the organisation that were not willing to compromise but it’s all good now. I had a chat with the manager, Anthony Hudson, and I’m really looking forward to playing for New Zealand again.

“I don’t want to miss any more football. I’ve had five months out and you take stock of things during that time. I knew I would regret it not playing for New Zealand again and I’m grateful to the manager there for allowing me to be part of it again.

“He wanted me involved but knew there was an issue. That situation has changed and now I’m looking forward to playing as much as I can for the international team.

“I had some negative comments when I first said I wanted to concentrate on my club career and not play for New Zealand for a year and I expected that. 

“It was portrayed that I was turning my back on New Zealand a little bit. I can understand why people saw it that way and were disappointed in my decision not to want to play. 

“A lot of people dream of playing for their country and perhaps they thought I was taking it for granted but supporters don’t know the ins and outs of what goes on in private conversations. 

“I know I might have to win the supporters over though. I accept that and the only way I can do that is with my performances on the pitch. I’ll be giving it 100 per cent every time I walk out with the shirt on to do that.”

New Zealand play in Fiji on Saturday, then the return leg is on Tuesday. The All Whites should top their group and if they do, they will play the winner of the other Oceania group, with the winner of that having a two legged Play-Off against the fifth placed team in the South America group for a place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.  


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