Official: Wellington Phoenix land defender Michael Boxall from Vancouver Whitecaps

The New Zealand international has returned to home to sign for Wellington, having fallen from favour at MLS outfit Vancouver in season 2012

New Zealand international Michael Boxall has bolstered Wellington Phoenix's defensive options, signing a two-year deal at the club on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old central defender joins the A-League club after a release from Major League Soccer outfit Vancouver Whitecaps was negotiated, with Boxall making 22 appearances during his time in Canada.

Boxall was the first selection in the 2011 MLS supplementary draft, but has failed to feature for the Whitecaps in the 2012 MLS season after a promising debut campaign.

"I've heard what a close-knit squad the club has, and I already know a handful of the lads through the All Whites, so I'm sure I will quickly settle down there," Boxall told the club's website from Vancouver.

"New Zealand has come a long way on the professional football front thanks to the Phoenix and I'm grateful to get the chance to play for Ricki [Herbert, Phoenix coach] and the club."

Boxall began his football career at Central United in his homeland, and also featured for Auckland City before attending the University of California in Santa Barbara for three years.

He is looking forward to the opportunity to increase his first-team opportunities at the Phoenix after a frustrating season for the Whitecaps.

"Vancouver is a great spot to live, but the football has been a bit disappointing in the last few months," Boxall said.

"I was out of favour with the coach and while I tried to do all the right things it didn’t make any difference.

"When it gets like that it is time to move on and fortunately the Phoenix were keen to have me."

Herbert knows Boxall well after handing the defender his first international cap in 2011, with the new signing set to challenge Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund for a first XI place.

"Michael is a big, strong, quick defender who has impressed me when I’ve had him in All Whites squads," Herbert said.

"He has been playing in a good league and I'm confident he will be quickly up to speed with the A-League."

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