Ben Waine is a 21-year-old striker from New Zealand who plays for the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League. Waine has been a part of the Phoenix organization for his whole career. He scored 15 goals in 38 games for their reserves in the now-defunct New Zealand Premiership and he is now about to start his 3rd season as a full-time A-League player. Waine has 1 goal in 5 caps for the New Zealand National Team. He also scored twice at the 2019 U-20 World Cup.
Ben Waine’s goal totals in the A-League do not necessarily jump off the page. He has 14 goals in a little under 3000 minutes, which is solid but does not immediately mark him as a player who could play at a higher level. But these numbers paint an incomplete picture without additional context. Waine has often come off the bench late in matches, putting a limit on what he can do to impact a game. Furthermore, in the most recent A-League season, the Phoenix suffered an injury crisis and were often just trying to limit the damage. Waine was often forced to play out of position. But he seems to be set up to be the first-choice striker in 2022/23 and based on the skills he has shown so far, there is every reason to believe it will be a breakout year for Waine.
The Kiwi striker is affectionately referred to by fans as “The Waine Train” and it’s easy to see why when you watch him play. Waine is extremely fast and strong enough to match most defenders. This makes him extremely dangerous in transition situations. Waine is always a threat when the ball is played into space. But he is not exclusively a pace merchant. Waine has very good off-the-ball movement and is adept at getting on the end of dangerous goal-scoring opportunities. His strength and jumping ability also make him quite dangerous in the air, despite only being 5’8.
With the ball at his feet, Waine is a bit limited. His first touch is decent but he does not offer very much in the build-up phase. He generally keeps it simple with his passing, usually just recycling possession if there is no opportunity to shoot or run into space. His dribbling is also not particularly impressive, he is better running into space than when isolated 1v1. Waine does put in a lot of defensive work but not always in the most efficient way. He could do better at picking his moments to press and trapping opposing players in difficult situations. Still, he is clearly willing and his speed is a big asset. So with the right coaching, he could probably become an effective presser.
The Phoenix have reportedly already seen off bids from Coventry City, Millwall, and an unnamed English League One club. He has a UK passport so a move to England or Scotland makes the most sense for him. I can see him being quite successful at that level if he is on a team that plays to his strengths.