While many of his team-mates enjoyed a fortnight of training in the familiar surroundings of Chadwell Heath, Winston Reid's international break was rather different.

The West Ham United defender made the 24,000-mile round trip from London to the city of Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island, where he captained his country for the first time in a vital 2-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over New Caledonia - a result that confirmed their place in the Intercontinental Play-Off with the fourth-placed CONCACAF nation for a place in Brazil.

After spending a couple of days relaxing with his family - and watching his country's cricket team come within a whisker of beating England in a Test match - Reid returned to this country on Monday and is now prepared for Saturday's Barclays Premier League visit of West Bromwich Albion.


The No2, who has also led the Hammers in each of their previous two matches in the absence of Kevin Nolan, spoke exclusively to West Ham TV about his eventful fortnight and his hopes of making a winning return to action at the Boleyn Ground.

"I've flown a couple of kilometres, that's for sure!" joked the centre-back. "It's been good. I went away with New Zealand and we got a good result and now I'm looking forward to the game on Saturday.

"I had a conversation with the coach [Ricki Herbert] when I got to New Zealand and it's a great honour and privilege to captain my country, so hopefully things will go well and we'll qualify for Brazil. If I got to captain the side there, that would be a great honour.

"It was a bit of a long journey but I got there in the end and, game-wise, we got the three points that mattered. We're looking forward to the two games in the Play-Off."

Without Reid, who was rested, New Zealand completed a perfect six wins from six in Round 3 of Oceania qualifying by winning 2-0 in the Solomon Islands last week. For the defender, fixtures against relatively unknown Pacific Island nations present a different sort of challenge to the one he is used to with the Hammers.

"The Oceania qualifiers are different from the Premier League. It's difficult as well because the circumstances you come across are different - you don't just turn up at the stadium like you do here. You have preparation and travel that don't always go well when you go to those sorts of places, so it's difficult. There is also the heat, so it can be tough to play in those environments because they always want to beat us when we go to those places.

"In this qualification round I thought we did well and were very professional. We only conceded two goals so I thought we did a good job."

New Zealand enjoyed a memorable 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, where the All Whites earned three group-stage draws, including a 1-1 tie with Slovakia that featured a last-minute goal from Reid. The defender believes his country is making strides forward on both the football and cricket pitch, having held England to a 0-0 draw in the recent three-Test series.

"I think we've done all right. The team is getting better and there are a lot of good young players coming through by New Zealand's standards. It's good and hopefully the game can grow down there.

"[Regarding the cricket], we should have won it. I watched the highlights and had a little bet with one of the physios at West Ham, but unfortunately it ended in a draw!"

Having been back at Chadwell since Tuesday, Reid is now 100 per cent ready for the visit of the Baggies for an important Barclays Premier League fixture this weekend.

"I think everyone is looking forward to it and raring to go. We've done well at home  this season and had some really good performances, so we're looking forward to another home game and hopefully we can do another one on Saturday."

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