Rookie draft brings more Tiwi and Kiwi heritage to the AFL
Wednesday, December 12 2007 @ 08:28 am ACDT
Contributed by: Sean Finlayson
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.