Hands off: Phoenix warn Western Melbourne away from coach Rudan

Wellington Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison says A-League newcomers Western Melbourne will have to look elsewhere for their inaugural coach, declaring Mark Rudan is under contract and staying put across the ditch.

Rudan has been a raging success in his first professional coaching gig, having put the Phoenix in the frame for their first finals appearance in four years. The consortium behind the Western Melbourne Group have taken notice, and have been linked to a move for the former Sydney FC skipper as they get things in order for their debut A-League season later this year.

Hands off: Wellington Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison says coach Mark Rudan won’t be moving to Western Melbourne.Credit:Dominion Post

But if Rudan is the man they really want, it appears they'll have a fight on their hands. Morrison said he had signed a two-year contract and that he would see it out, if not stay in New Zealand – assuming the club's long-term A-League future is also locked away.

"He's on a two-year contract, so he won't be at Western Melbourne," Morrison told the Herald. "They have to find a coach for the start of next season and one thing about Rudes is he's a very honourable, straight-up guy. I've got no issues, no worries there.

"But we also recognise that for the future, we have to have something that's going to appeal to him and that is part of us continuing to grow and develop.

"When I first spoke to him, I said, we do really want someone who is going to come in and fight for this club and he's just delivered in spades. I really could not be happier with him."

He's on a two-year contract, so he won't be at Western Melbourne … one thing about Rudes is he's a very honourable, straight-up guy.

Rudan appears to have fully bought in to the Phoenix, football in New Zealand and the broader culture of the country. But he admitted last month that if he knew moving overseas without his wife and two young children was going to be so difficult, he wouldn't have taken the job.

"Every sleepless night you are thinking about your job and you want be with your family and it's not easy. I've got to find a solution there," Rudan said. "I fly back when I can but there's a lot of times where I can't."

If family is the lure that convinces him to shift back home, it may be the other incoming expansion club that proves a better fit. Macarthur-South West Sydney are due to enter the A-League the season after Rudan's Wellington contract expires, and he has a longstanding relationship with club director Sam Krslovic from his days at Sydney United 58.

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