No big Mal for Mozzies

Monday, August 18 2008 @ 03:51 am ACST

Contributed by: Brett Northey

Papua New Guinea born AFL champion Mal Michael, a triple premiership player with the Brisbane Lions, has officially announced his retirement from his third and final club, Essendon (he started his career with Collingwood). Mal is on the record many times as wanting to return to PNG to help his country, as well as having an interest in representing the Mosquitoes in football.

More on his retirement and future plans later, but for now it was interesting to note that Australian media reported that Mal might even wish to represent PNG in next week's International Cup. Three issues would have to be addressed - would he be selected, is he eligible (and if not, would an exemption be granted) and is it too late given the deadline for final squads has passed?

Based on comments from AFLPNG staff in the past, Michael probably would be selected, given the big boost it would give to both the team (not least in the much needed height department) and exposure of the sport in PNG. However based on the tournament rules he would appear to be ineligible (having grown up and learnt the game in Australia) and as such would require an exemption. But the issue that seals his fate in the negative is that squads have indeed been finalised, lodged and the deadline passed. checked with AFL International Coordinator Josh Vanderloo, who confirmed that it is indeed too late.

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