Focus soon to shift to AFL NZ 2017 Premiership
Sunday, December 04 2016 @ 10:45 am ACDT
Contributed by: Michael Christiansen
In late 2015 AFL New Zealand broke new ground with their inaugural draft for the 2016 AFL New Zealand Premiership. A four team super league is you will. This time around the draft was held again but with a 2nd year variation – each of the 4 sides was able to retain 13 of their list – a base roster – from the 2016 season to provide a level of continuity.
The 2017 competition will again see matches played over 9 rounds at Auckland’s QBE Stadium at North Harbour. The first round of matches will start on February 12th culminating in the final round on April 9th.
The timing of the Premiership season as distinct to the regular August-December regional leagues – allows for the inclusion of Australian based players. For AFL NZ this should provide the perfect launching pad for an assault on the 2017 AFL International Cup.
The draft this year was held in late November – many of the players and coaches though still have club duties to fulfil as the local seasons wrap up.
The teams also have confirmed their off-field line ups – with assistant coaches recently confirmed. James Monoghan takes on the role with the Southern Saints. He is a 10 year veteran of the game in NZ, being a junior graduate and a 2008 IC representative. He is currently engaged with Auckland’s University Blues who take on the Waitakere Magpies in todays Auckland AFL Grand Final.
John Jackson will assist the Northern Suns, and he too is busy today – coaching his white hot Eastern Bulldogs in the Wellington AFL Grand Final. Jackson was the captain of the New Zealand (at the time Falcons) 2002 International Cup campaign (finished 3rd behind Ireland and PNG) and has been involved in coaching around Wellington. His other ‘hat’ is that of President of the Poneke Rugby Club – and is symbolic of the fact that many Rugby players play AFL in their off season.
The Western Crows have picked up Kieran Houlker – who is heavily involved in junior talent programmes around Wellington and the AFL New Zealand Academy.
The Central Giants have picked up Auckland based Michael Lentini who will be mentored by head coach Rob Malone. Lentini has recently commenced coaching within the junior development programme and will gain valuable experience in this role during Premiership season.
The draft itself this year ran in late November. The #1 picks not quite as well known as last year – however in many cases give a good guide to the developing talent. The Western Crows picked up Waitakere Magpies defender Josh Copeland. The Southern Saints opted for Josh Morgan-Ranui, a 17 year old from Wellington. The Central Giants picked up Christchurch Bulldogs mid Wayne Sullivan while the Northern Suns picked up 32 year old Peter Halstead who today will ruck for his Eastern Suburb Bulldogs in the Wellington AFL Grand Final.
2017 AFL New Zealand Premiership Season Schedule
QBE Stadium, North Harbour
|Round 1||February 12th|
|Round 2||February 19th|
|Round 3||February 26th|
|Round 4||March 5th|
|Round 5||March 12th|
|Round 6||March 19th|
|Round 7||March 26th|
|Round 8||April 2nd|
|Round 9||April 9th|
The Western Crows were crowned 2016 champions, finishing top of the table ahead of the Southern Saints, Central Giants and the Northern Suns.