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Tuesday, August 04 2020 @ 02:49 pm ACST

St Kilda to soon join the NZ recruiting bandwagon?


Representatives from St Kilda were in Auckland this week, checking out potential crossover players. A key member of the visitors is Hawthorn’s former list manager Chris Pelchen. Hawthorn have done it in the past, most notably with Kurt Heatherley who plays for a Hawthorn feeder team in the TAC Cup and has transitioned from an International Scholarship player to an International Rookie.

Club bosses see rich athletic potential to mine in Auckland, a point emphasised by chief executive of AFL New Zealand Robert Vanstam. "We're not looking to steal athletes from the NZRU or NRL," Vanstam said in reference to the recent spate of code-hopping by Israel Folau and Karmichael Hunt. "We're more interested in giving kids here another option."

Saints’ Chief executive Michael Nettlefold expected a sellout crowd in Wellington, bringing St Kilda to an untapped fanbase. With St Kilda among the 10 of 18 AFL clubs based in or near the Victorian capital, their home market is saturated.

"The sport is new to many people in New Zealand, so we're hoping to be at the forefront of something special. And to be able to build links with New Zealand on Anzac Day is a wonderful thing."

"It's a fast and dramatic sport," said St Kilda coach Scott Watters. "There's nothing like these athletes anywhere in the world. The action moves quickly and around 360 degrees. "We reckon we've got the greatest sport in the world and we think Kiwis will agree."

For more, see AFL scouts on mission to mine likely talent.

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