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First internationally staged AFL Premiership Game bound for NZ?
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Friday, March 09 2012 @ 03:06 pm ACDT

Rory -

I guess in the perfect world, the ACT would've been nurtured more carefully through the 1980s.  Alas, the old VFL was cash strapped and TV/media was much different then to now; let alone that the VFL had to find some way to morph into an AFL.

Canberra certainly appeared to have been a lost opportunity - but, the Swans in Sydney was a key start and, at very least - as often seen - the drive/flight down from Sydney to Canberra is not seen to be too prohibitive for many Swans fans when the Swannees are 'in town'.

As a long time North fan/member - I made the trek to 'sunny' (but chilly) Canberra once for a game at Manuka.  So, let's not hide from the fact that in the late '90s North Melb were playing 3 games a year there......sadly, Norths' attention wandered seemingly aimlessly across Canberra, Sydney and Gold Coast - - so, I think we can all identify careful/patient nurturing vs cash grabs.

That said then - the 'nurturing' that Hawthorn has embarked on in NZ looks to be of the non-cash grabbing sort.  That Chris Pelchen sees the opportunity in NZ to go where Hawthorn pretty well can't - whilst the Hawks Tassie engagement remains - is of course ironic given that St Kilda has the opportunity at one point to engage more in Tasmania!!!  Obviously Pelchen wasn't there then.

For now too - given the zonal carve up of NSW-ACT b/w Swans and Giants - NSW and Canberra are out of reach now - and the reality now is that for an AFL club with a genuine interest in a form of 'zonal/academy' work - the international scholarship is the primary opening, esp now that the NSW scholarship scheme is basically a thing of the past.  Interesting there that a club like Collingwood was several years ago signing up the NSW Scholarship kids at a rate unknown south of the Murray, along with testing the waters of the Irish Sea and bringing in an American basketballer. 

Point being - - don't get blinded by notions of 'cash grabs'.  Clubs always have to look for a point of difference and I reckon at very least with Pelchen on board at (once was) Moorrabbin that this is something to look on with interest rather than concern.

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