Hard-work, perseverance, determination has been behind the Wellington Phoenix unbeaten six-game winning streak, their largest such streak since the 2014/15 season.

For a club which had been so used to explaining failure and selling false hope for the future, 2019 must mark a nice change for the Wellington Phoenix and Mark Rudan who are beginning to reap the rewards of a tough pre-season.

“We worked a lot on a team culture and environment, I know some coaches decide to do it halfway through the season when things aren’t going well, it was a massive thing we worked on really early to understand who we were, what we were, what we’re about going forward and I think now those signs are starting to come out,” he said.

“It was really important to lay the platform nice and early in pre-season, we got the time to do that, we were very clear on the team we wanted to be, the players I wanted to bring in and the skill-sets required as well and the characters we want at the football club, they all play a part…we did a lot of work in recruitment a lot and you can see it’s been justified.”

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In trying circumstances being a man down against a relentless Adelaide United who had all the possession, a barrage of shots and a raucous home crowd behind them Wellington scrambled an unlikely point.

The score-line will be what the beholder makes of it: some will see it as a lucky escape, or a reason football fails to inspire the masses in Australia or dropped points for Adelaide United.

However, it speaks to a greater point of how Wellington, often the forgotten side in the A-League and New Zealand, is finally starting to build something of substance and will not longer be pushed around by its contemporaries.

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“The mentality as well, it’s something we worked really hard on, the camaraderie, the spirit and togetherness, they showed really good leadership out there today they were all talking and communicating… it’s another massive tick going forward,” he said.

“The players know we’re in a good place right now, they’re quite determined and their expectations are rising which is good. We’re all holding ourselves accountable for our performances.”

Part of the charge has been led by the experienced rear-guard of Andrew Durante and Steven Taylor whose leadership was noticeable on Saturday, especially as the pressure grew in the dying stages in the game.

“Dura [Andrew Durante] is one of the best leaders in the competition, has been for many years now, I had a good talk with him in the off-season about what his plans were and where he saw himself and I am really proud of Dura, Dura’s really stood up,” he said.

“He’s been immense, irrespective of age, he bought into what I wanted to bring into the club it was a really important part of who he wanted to be… he’s been absolutely sensational, he wasn’t tiring and if anything he lifted that’s what good players do, they wait for these moments and the good players and strong leaders really embrace these challenges.”

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As one of the form sides of the competition, arguably the form side of the competition, Wellington are suddenly relevant to the A-League again. With half a season still to play, anything can happen, but this new-found belief instilled by Rudan, has the Phoenix and their supporters buying into something substantial which promises serious results and seems determined to prove the critics wrong.

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