Contributed by: Rod Shaw
Former North Melbourne star Wayne Schwass says in the Herald Sun that New Zealand can develop into a strong AFL breeding ground and wants to see a match played across the Tasman for premiership points.
AFL New Zealand continues to push the league for a home-and-away match to be played in the country as early as next year, with Anzac Day suggested as a potential date.
Schwass who was born in New Zealand backed taking a game across the Tasman. "We are into Tasmania, the AFL are exploring China, and I understand that from a commercial point of view, but New Zealand is three hours across the ditch."
Schwass is an assistant coach for the New Zealand Hawks, who play the AIS-AFL Academy squad in Wellington on Saturday 28th January.
New Zealand-born Hawthorn player Shane Savage hosted a contingent from the NZ Hawks yesterday at a Hawks training session and said the sport was going forward in his homeland. Schwass and International Rookie Kurt Heatherley lead the group, also comprising ex Saint Khan Haretuku, Andrew Crighton, Andrew Christensen, Andrew Howison, Aaron Harris and Justin Clark.
After casting his eye over the New Zealand talent in a skills session Schwass said “the country boasted plenty of potential, you just have to look at some of the players that we have got here today, the players have got great body shapes", he said.
"It's important to recognise that we are not going to replace rugby union because it is part of New Zealand's DNA. But the reality is that there are 15 spots available to play for the All-Blacks and you need to be very special. In the AFL, we have got two new teams, that is 100 extra opportunities. It's quicker to go to New Zealand than it is to Perth."
An AFL NZ spokesman said junior development was a focus, with about 20,000 children playing Auskick equivalent Kiwi Kick in Auckland.
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