Oceanian team to play in front of Pacific leaders
Wednesday, August 05 2009 @ 01:15 pm ACST
Contributed by: Rod Shaw
An under-23 AFL Oceania side has been put together, with players gathered from New Zealand, Nauru, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga supplementing the bulk of the squad from Papua New Guinea. The team will tackle a North Queensland U23 side, an area noted for its strong growth in indigenous talent. The game will be played at Cazaly Stadium, Cairns.
The match is a joint initiative with the Federal Government, to complement the 2009 Pacific Islands Forum being held in Cairns, with Prime Ministers from across the South Pacific hopefully in attendance.
The teams will be coached by longtime Brisbane Lions Premiership teammates, Mal Michael (The Islanders) and Daryl White (North Queensland). AFL Oceania manager Andrew Cadzow will be Michael's assistant. Michael is part Papuan and White has indigenous Australian heritage.
The Islanders team has 8 Australian-based PNG scholarship holders, including PNG's best on ground in the IC08 grand final Donald Barry, and his teammates at that tournament Peter Labi and the Gold Coast-signed Amua Pirika. Players of note from elsewhere include other 2008 International Cup players Andriu Sucu (NZ), Jonas Amwana and Johnny Dagiaro (Nauru) and Sauluitoga (Samoa). The team has been selected with an eye to the future, with many of the players considered promising athletes, not necessarily the "best of the best" footballers at this point in time, although plenty of them are also good players.
The match will be played this evening in Cairns, Wednesday 5th August, entry free and the public welcome.