The Kiwis very nearly defeated the AIS AFL Academy in Wellington last Saturday.Though it is a game of mainly men (NZ Hawks) against boys (AIS) this aspect has not changed and therefore the performance of the Hawks shows evidence of significant progress on-field for the Kiwis. With so many of the AIS players going on to be listed by AFL Clubs this annual game provides a clearly defined benchmark for quality development. The AIS AFL Academy is well known for producing top quality footballers. From the 30-man team that toured New Zealand in 2011, 29 now have contracts with AFL clubs.
In great news for footy viewers in NZ the Australian Football League today to announced Sommet Sports and SKY Sport have renewed their international rights for the next three years.
New Zealand sports fans will be able to watch every AFL game in the 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season on either the Sommet Sports or SKY Sport channels.
Each week Sommet Sports will broadcast a minimum of five matches live and the remaining matches on delay. The rights include live broadcast of the Toyota AFL Finals Series matches (including the Grand Final) and a weekly highlights program that will air over 28 weeks (on holdback).
The New Zealand Hawks and the AIS AFL Academy will renew their annual competition at The Westpac Stadium in Wellington, on the 25th of January 2014. Entry into the stadium will be free.
The New Zealand Hawks last played the AIS AFL Academy in January 2013, in a match that finished with the Australians emerging with a hard fought win. This year the fixture promises to be equally as competitive. Though NZ do not have the Hawthorn Rookies Kurt Heatherley and Shem Tatupu, Melbourne’s International Scholarship holder Maia Westrupp nor AFL legend Wayne Schwass who made his debut for his country last year there is no doubt the team will be tough competition for the talented juniors at the AIS.
The squad will blend youth and experience, and feature New Zealanders based both around the country and in Australia. Contingents of players are currently training in Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago, Melbourne, and the Northern Territory of Australia.
The Flying Boomerangs were just too good for the NZ Hawks u16’s. This is no surprise as these indigenous Australians realistically will have been playing footy from not long after they could walk. Meanwhile many of the Kiwis will have been identified through talent spotting competitions like the Hawks Cup, with most players unlikely to have played more than twenty games ever. Over time, as the juniors come through in NZ the gap between the two sides is likely to become less, but right now the tour is best seen as a great experience for all involved!
The AFL Flying Boomerangs were formally welcomed to New Zealand with a powhiri (a welcome to country), held at Te Marae within the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, which served as a fitting introduction to the indigenous Maori culture of New Zealand.
Playing with an exciting blend of skill and speed, the AFL Flying Boomerangs were simply too fast for the Hawks to keep pace. However, the Hawks earned respect through their dogged commitment throughout both games.
In a repeat of last year’s Grand Final the Magpies turned the tables on 2012 Premiers Mt Roskill Saints. In a tense match, where the lead fluctuated throughout, it was the Magpies who managed to hold their nerve and maintained a late lead, eventually running out to a 76-65 win at the Onepoto Domain.
Mt Roskill lead for much of the start of the match, going into the 1st quarter break with a 3.4:22 – 3.0:18 advantage. Waitakere hit back hard, controlling territory for much of the 2nd quarter to go into the half time break 4.6:30 – 6.4:40 up.
The Saints were by no means out of the contest though, putting together an almost perfect third quarter to retake the lead, and the momentum in the match. With the final quarter looming, they moved out to a 7.10:52 -7.4:46 lead.
In a recent announcement, St Kilda's New Zealand international scholarship holder Joe Baker-Thomas will relocate to Melbourne from his home town of Porirua City in Wellington in early 2014.
Since being signed with the Saints in April this year, the 17-year-old has been based in Wellington undertaking an AFL development program implemented by St Kilda, and supported by AFL New Zealand.
“Joe has come a long way in a short space of time considering he wasn't even aware of the AFL 12 months ago. He has progressed significantly with his football skills and we hope to build on this development through his training in the Saints Player Academy program in 2014,” said St Kilda Head of Football, Chris Pelchen.
After the running of the AFL Oceania Cup in Suva, Fiji, last week the AFL Oceania Squad has been announced. The squad will compete in next years South Pacific Cup against New Zealand and PNG.
In 2014 the South Pacific Cup will be held on the NSW mid North coast at Coffs Harbour.
As reported the result of theAFL Oceania Cup 2013 - Nauru claim the title the Nauru squad have run out victors and are well represented. Prior to last year, the tournament had included New Zealand and PNG at this point however the splitting of the tournament into the Oceania and subsequent South Pacific Cup tournament provides a solid representative pathway for even the smaller Pacific nations.
Fiji again is hosting the AFL Oceania Cup for the third successive year. AFL Tonga and AFL Nauru arrived last weekend however at late notice AFL Vanuatu were unable to make the trip.
Day 1 kicked off with a lightning premiership format with 4 squads participating : Nauru, Tonga, Fiji and Fiji/Vanuatu.
The tournament then reverted to the competition days leading up to the Grand Final in Suva on Friday. Nauru ran out deserving winners over hosts Fiji whilst in a tight tussle the Fiji/Vanuatu squad edged out an inaccurate Tonga by 2 points in the 3rd place play of.
Ben Drew, the AFL Development Officer for the Pacific highlighted the following for thanks : AFL Fiji, Coca Cola, Suva Grammer, Fiji Sports Commission, FNU (Fiji National University) for all the assistance over the week, as well as both AFL Tonga and AFL Nauru for the terrific football they have played.
From the tournament was selected the 2014 Oceania Squad - article to follow. These boys will be competing at the South Pacific Cup in Coffs Harbour April 2014.