Contributed by: Brett Northey
The New Zealand AFL, reigning International Cup champions, have announced their squad to contest the 2006 Australian Country Championships in Queensland in late July. This historic occasion will see the Kiwi's league up against some of Australia's finest country talent in a huge challenge for the New Zealand team.
Unlike the majority of internationals, in which countries field sides made up entirely of their own nationals, this competition will be slightly different. As it is a country Australia regional event, not state of origin, there is no reason for NZ to limit its team to purely New Zealanders. This will give the NZAFL the opportunity to present the full strength of their footy leagues, regarded as some of the best outside of Australia. Nevertheless, the Falcons will be up against stiff competition, and all the international footy community will be watching to see how they go.
Rob Vanstam will coach the side, which has an average age of 23 years, an encouraging sign for future NZ teams. 14 players come from the dominant Auckland league, with 5 from Wellington, 4 Canterbury and 3 from the relatively new Waikato AFL.
2005 International Cup captain Andrew Congalton was off to the UK on a rugby contract after the Cup, and has been replaced as leader by Louis McLennan, with Morgan Jones and Mick Coultard as deputies.
We'll run through the team compared with the 2005 International Cup and the Kiwi/Aussie breakdown in a later story.
|Steve Telfer||35||Auckland||Manurewa Raiders|
|Tim Stevens||31||Wellington||Wellington Saints|
|Mick Coultard||31||Auckland||Manurewa Raiders|
|Stephen Power||29||Auckland||University Blues|
|Rob Hart||28||Auckland||Manurewa Raiders|
|Morgan Jones||25||Auckland||Mt Roskill Saints|
|Lewis Hurst||25||Auckland||Mt Roskill Saints|
|Richard Bradley||24||Canterbury||Eastern Blues|
|Scott McNally||23||Canterbury||Eastern Blues|
|Caleb Stick||23||Auckland||North Shore Tigers|
|Louis McLennan||23||Auckland||North Shore Tigers|
|Guy Ferguson||23||Wellington||Eastern Bulldogs|
|Frank Archer||23||Canterbury||Canterbury Cougars|
|John Mailing||22||Auckland||Waitakere Magpies|
|Joe Hendry||22||Canterbury||Canterbury Cougars|
|Matthew VanWijk||21||Waikato||Waikato Thunder|
|Phil Mourits||21||Waikato||Waikato Thunder|
|Matt Callaghan||20||Auckland||Mt Roskill Saints|
|Nic Cunneen||20||Waikato||Waikato Thunder|
|Ben Horne||20||Auckland||University Blues|
|Anthony James||20||Wellington||Hutt Valley Eagles|
|David Cory-Toussaint||19||Auckland||University Blues|
|Alex Fakatoumafia||19||Auckland||Manurewa Raiders|
|James Kusel||18||Wellington||Hutt Valley Eagles|
|Andrew Crighton||18||Auckland||North Shore Tigers|
|Andrew Lealofi||17||Wellington||Wellington Saints|
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