Contributed by: Jake Anson
The AFL has quashed plans by the Geelong Cats to play a pre-season AFL match in New Zealand next year, making it unlikely that the club will undertake a training and development camp in the Pacific nation.
The Geelong Advertiser reported on August 23rd that the Cats were set on playing at least one New Zealand fixture in the renamed NAB Cup competition in 2006 but had their application rejected by the AFL last week. Although disappointed by the decision, the club is at least buoyed by the prospect of gaining additional matches at Skilled Stadium.
An AFL spokesperson said that Geelong's bid to play in New Zealand was rejected so the league can schedule more games in regional cities whilst the MCG is unavailable during the Commonwealth Games.
"We have no plans to play any pre-season game in New Zealand next year. It is not on our agenda," the spokesperson said. "Mainly because of the Commonwealth Games and the (already) disrupted start to the 2006 season with the MCG being unavailable."
Cats CEO Brian Cook revealed that the club had begun planning to stage a week-long Community Camp in either Auckland or Christchurch during February, where they would stage open training sessions, make public appearances and host Australian rules clinics at local schools. The idea originated after the AFL sought expressions of interest from clubs early this year about playing in New Zealand to help promote the sport internationally.
Cook said the club would first wait to investigate other overseas options before deciding on whether to apply to play in New Zealand again in 2007. Issues relating to availability of the MCG that sank the prospect of overseas pre-season matches in 2006 should not affect their staging in following seasons.
The AFL has previously staged a number of games in New Zealand, including recent matches in 1998, 2000 & 2001. Geelong last played there when it defeated St. Kilda by 13 points in Auckland during 1991.
World Footy News