New Zealand Confident for the Cup

Tuesday, February 15 2005 @ 11:10 pm ACDT

Contributed by: Aaron Richard

With a a squad containing fifteen players between the ages of 17 and 22, the New Zealand Falcons will be one of the younger squads on display in Melbourne this August. In addition, most of them either play in the Australian Capital Territory AFL or the AFL Queensland or have toured Australia multiple times, playing against Queensland under18s representative sides.

Like the Papua New Guinea side, who by all accounts will be even stronger, faster and more skillful than 2002, the New Zealanders will be very tough to beat.

In an interview with the New Zealand AFL website, NZAFL General Manager Rob Malone said that he was expecting a good support base in New Zealand in the lead-up to the cup, with strong media support building on a tradition of national pride in all their sporting sides, from Rugby to Volleyball to Water Polo.

He adds that a number of the players are very good, young athletes who will be anxious to impress any talent scouts who may be in the crowd watching the matches - particularly as AFL clubs are ever more willing to think outside the box when it comes to recruiting.

The squad has been refined from a provisional squad of 61 players selected after the National Provincial Championships held in Christchurch last year. He rates the squad as the equals of a mid-range A grade amateur side in Australia, adding that "there are some outstanding athletes in this squad".

So why do they think they've got what it takes to win the Cup? They are aiming to be faster than the Japanese and PNG sides, strong enough to compete with the Irish, and more passionate than the South Africans. If they can succeed on all those counts, they'd be pretty well unstoppable.

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