GRAHAM Arnold’s squad for season nine of the Hyundai A-League continues to take shape with precocious youngsters Storm Roux and Tom Slater confirmed for the club’s Championship defence.
Right-back Roux, 20, recently played in all three of New Zealand’s group matches at the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup in Turkey, and joins the Mariners on a two-year deal.
While he is one of New Zealand football’s brightest prospects, Roux won’t take up one of the Mariners’ foreigner spots by virtue of the fact he also holds Australian citizenship.
Having made his Hyundai A-League debut for Perth Glory last season, Roux said he felt flattered when he learnt of the Mariners’ interest in him,
“I got a big confidence boost when I found out a big Club like the Mariners and a coach like Graham Arnold wanted me,” Roux said.
“I am obviously very excited to be joining the Champions. I’m aiming to establish myself as an A-League player during my time at the Club.”
Meanwhile, left-winger Slater, 16, has penned a three-season contract with Central Coast having last season turned out for Sydney FC’s National Youth League side.
With the Mariners returning to pre-season training this morning, today marked Slater’s first day as a full-time professional footballer.
Slater will be looking to make giant strides under the tutelage of Arnold and his astute coaching staff, knowing full well that many youngsters have been given opportunities for the men from Bluetongue Stadium in the past.
“Hopefully if I train well I’ll get a shot,” Slater said. “I can see that he’s (Arnold) done that with young players before.”
Tom Slater with father Robbie, and Peter Turnbull
Mariners mastermind Arnold believes the signings of Roux and Slater are in line with the club’s successful philosophy of grooming elite young talent for the big stage.
“It’s about getting some good young players in and giving the opportunity to young players,” Arnold said.
“I watched him (Roux) play against the Australia Under 20 side down in Wollongong and he was excellent.”
“Young Tommy (Slater) comes in from Sydney FC. Sydney were interested in offering him a deal, but luckily we got him up here. It’s a good opportunity to develop him, educate him, and hopefully he’ll end up a good product.”
“Obviously Tom is the son of Robbie Slater, who is my good mate. I went and watched Tom on numerous occasions without his father around to make sure he has the qualities, and he does have the qualities,” Arnold concluded.
Central Coast Mariners Group General Manager, Mr Peter Turnbull, said: "We believe Storm and Tom will develop immensely during their time with us and on behalf of the staff, our Members and fans, I would like to officially welcome them to the Mariners."
"I know both had other options for their football pathway, with Tom in fact receiving interest from a leading French club. It is testament to Graham Arnold, his staff and our Club that they have both chosen to play for us."
Tom Slater trains on Monday