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Rookie draft brings more Tiwi and Kiwi heritage to the AFL

General NewsWhile most of the attention on this year's AFL Rookie Draft was on the swathe of Gaelic football converts from Ireland, there were a couple of players from other interesting backgrounds in the mix.

As an interesting follow-up to our story on the Tiwi Islands, among the rookies is young Tiwi Islander Austin Wonaeamirri, an 18 year old, who has already followed the difficult path onto the Melbourne Demon's rookie list. Likened to the Davey brothers, Austin hails from Snake Bay on Melville Island. He becomes the latest success story from the tiny Tiwi Islands population to reach AFL level after Malcolm Lynch was drafted to the Western Bulldogs last year. Like many Territorians, Wonaeamirri's journey to the AFL has seen him move several times to get noticed by AFL recruiters. Firstly from the islands to Darwin, where he been playing for St Marys and later the newly admitted Tiwi Bombers in the NTAFL. He was also a standout in last year's NT junior representative team. However he was officially drafted from the Norwood Football Club where he played for a year in the SANFL in Adelaide. With the increasing likeliness of an NT representative side in the SANFL or WAFL, these pathways may make it much less difficult for talented players like Wonaeamirri to reach AFL level.

The St Kilda Football Club rookie drafted 17 year old Khan Haretuku from Sydney. Haretuku was one of the AFL's NSW Scholarships chosen by St Kilda who has been playing for UNSW/Eastern Suburbs in the Sydney AFL. Haretuku, whose parents are from New Zealand, has Maori heritage and is a solidly built youngster with plenty of raw ability who has a strong rugby background. Haretuku played both rugby league and rugby union, but after being awarded the scholarship declared that he saw his future in AFL.

While it is exciting for these players to get a chance, the reality is that few players who miss the AFL Draft and are recruited as rookies actually get the opportunity to debut for their AFL clubs (with the exception of long term injuries to player). Fewer still make a big impression at the top level, though each year there are success stories like Darwin's Aaron Davey and Ireland's Martin Clarke that defy these odds.

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Rookie draft brings more Tiwi and Kiwi heritage to the AFL | 2 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Rookie draft brings more Tiwi and Kiwi heritage to the AFL
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Wednesday, December 12 2007 @ 04:11 pm ACDT

Recently on SEN (24hr sports radio in Melbourne), recruiters etc have mentioned that real quality can be gained via the Rookie draft - as players know that they may have just the 1 season to 'make it'. It can display worthy traits about players, even if they don't have the opportunity to actually play a game that season.
A recent list of Rookie graduates includes:
(1999) - Dean Cox, Dean Brogan, Stephen Milne, T.Kennelly, Shane Tuck, M.Doughty.
(2000) - D.Peverill, D.Jolly, M.Rooke, R.Copeland
(2001) - B.Thornton, Q.Lynch, M.Boyd, B.Rutten, A.Sandilands, M.Mattner
(2002) - B.Sewell, M.Firrito, N.Maxwell, M.Osbourne (re-rookied), J.Roe
(2003) - A.Carrazzo (Geel 2001 - unsuccessful), A.Davey, N.Foley, D.Pratt (again!), N.Lovett-Murray (Coll 2000), A.Lovett, S.O'hAilpin
(2004) - Dale Morris, Harry O'Brien, R.Crowley, J.Gibson, J.Drummond (big year just gone).
(2005) - J.Roe (again), S.Armstrong (after being at Melb), M.Priddis, S.Gilham, C.Stiller
(2006) - Jake King, Matt Campbell, Marty Clarke & Jayden Attard.

These are the stand-outs for each year, there are plenty more that got a go.
Basically, there's about 130 rookied players over this time that are still on team lists - and rookied players have managed around 6000 games over that time.
It certainly shows that the Rookie draft is a potential pot of gold - and that players getting this opportunity DO certainly have an opportunity. It also shows that a single un-fulfilled rookie year need not be the end of the line.
All that said - there'd be a few players crossing fingers for a 17th license, and an 18th even.

Rookie draft brings more Tiwi and Kiwi heritage to the AFL
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, December 12 2007 @ 10:03 pm ACDT

Totally agree. Adelaide have been one of the more successful sides over the past 3 seasons, yet the statistics of a relatively poor performance in the draft are often cited. So a key has been the talent they've secured through the rookie system - players like Ben Rutten, who became an All-Australian full-back.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN