The inaugural New Zealand Hawks AFL Combine was held last week at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington. Boys aged from 14-18 were flown into Wellington from around the country with the intention of impressing recruiters from the AFL.
The boys were given a taste of the AFL as they were put through speed, agility, endurance and skills testing.
St Kilda helped run the combine with their staff instrumental in setup, showing their experience and professionalism. The Saints players were highly involved and quick to aid participants and pass on their knowledge and experience.
Recruiters were impressed by several of the attendees and it shouldn’t be long before we hear about more New Zealand talent being signed on to AFL scholarships.
Those to shine included Maia Westrupp, Alex Frew from Canterbury aged 16, 183cm and 83kg, Seth Going from Northland aged 17, 179 cms and 70kgs, Brock Messenger from Auckland, aged 17, 182 cms and 70kgs, Hugo Phillips from Wellington, aged 16 187 cms and 76 kgs and Fletcher Barclay from Wellington, aged 17, 186 cms and 75kgs.
Hawthorn added a new name to the list of young Kiwis that it has identified as potential AFL footballers last week in NZ. 15-year-old Siope Ngata is the newest international scholarship holder listed by Hawthorn.
Ngata was identified by the Hawks last October at a testing session and playing in games for the New Zealand Hawks. Like most Kiwi kids he has experience in rugby.
At the New Zealand AFL Combine held last week, the 186cm and 98kg prospect performed strongly in the athletic testing and in the kicking and clean hands drills. He joins Ben Miller, Shem Tatupu, Kurt Heatherley and Rhys Panui Leth who have all been given international scholarships by Hawthorn (it is beleived Panui Leth is not longer a scholarship holder).
Recruiting manager Graham Wright said "At this stage Siope will stay in New Zealand [instead of coming to Australia full-time]. Invariably we'll monitor his progress over the next year or two and he'll be involved in our development programs here."
Saturday’s Australia Day clash between the AIS U 17 squad and New Zealand provided a good contest but ultimately the talented Aussie youngsters were too good despite the Hawks fielding a team including AFL legend Wayne Schwass (pictured left), VFL champion forward Khan Haretuku and Hawthorn International Rookie Shem Tatupu.
Game day presented perfect weather conditions and ground in the best condition possible. NZ Coach Justin Davies said “Last year NZ Hawks won the first quarter. This year the AIS came out prepared and played a scintillating first quarter with roving forward Pickett kicking four of the better traditional roving goals you will see”.
Pickett stood out at one of this year’s AIS training camps. Pickett's run in the 20metre sprint was over almost before it began, completing it in 2.85 seconds. He thought he could go faster.
It was the quickest result of any player at the camp, including the level two squad, who are hoping to be drafted this year (level one players are eligible for the draft in 2014.) Go back to last year's NAB AFL Draft Combine and only one player (Adam Saad, 2.81 seconds) beat Pickett's time.
AFL Fiji is today hosting a 2013 'AUSTRALIA DAY CHALLENGE' – with regular combatants the Cats versus the Swans in an Australia Day game. Also, the Fiji Tribe 2012 OCEANIA CUP SELECTED REPS - 11 IN ALL - WITH THEIR PARENTS ACCOMPANYING – will be meeting at 4PM today, ALBERT PARK – and will receive vital information with respect to APRIL in Australia.
MR GLEN MILES (Acting Australian High Commissioner) has as a special guest for the 'AUSTRALIA DAY' MATCH AND MEETING AT ALBERT PARK 4pm. Mr Miles will hand over our 2013 Australian Sports Outreach Program (ASOP) GRANT as well as TOSS THE COIN for the match.
AFLPNG is perhaps the brightest burning beacon of Australian Football development pathways outside of Australia. And so, the appointment last week of Cornelius “Connie” Papau into the newly created position of Operations Manager: Senior Football for AFL PNG heralds a further step forward for an organisation that has been steadily developing in recent years.
The following press release from AFL PNG serves as a useful introduction of Connie and a description of his role.
The New Zealand Hawks team to play the visiting AIS AFL Academy side at Westpac Stadium on Saturday the 26th of January has been announced with a major shock being the inclusion of 44 year old AFL legend Wayne Schwass joining Frankston’s VFL powerhouse forward Khan Haretuku on-field. Schwass (pictured left), who was born in NZ, will fulfill a lifelong ambition to wear the Silver Fern and his involvement is sure to not just be good for him but great for football. He played 282 games across his career with North Melbourne and the Sydney Swans.
Of interest to football followers concerned with the international growth of the game, NZ will field 8 teenagers in their squad of 25 spearheaded by Shem Tatupu, who Hawthorn have committed to listing as an International Rookie alongside Kurt Heatherley in 2014 and Ben Miller, who is one of five young Kiwis to be awarded an International Scholarship so far.
St Kilda Football Club players and officials arrived tonight in Wellington to take part in the first Australia Post AFL Community Camp in New Zealand.
“These camps provide a tremendous boost to communities across Australia and we’re hoping we can do the same in New Zealand. We want immerse ourselves in the Wellington culture and encourage them to become involved with St Kilda Football Club,” Head Coach, Scott Watters said.
During the camp, the Saints will take part in a host of activities, including an AFL Super Clinic, open training sessions and meeting the Wellington sporting fans.
The last few months of 2012 had a flurry of good news for international footy such as Mike Pyke's success in the AFL Grand Final and confirmation that in 2013 New Zealand will host the first ever AFL match for premiership points to be staged outside of Australia.
Potentially lost in there was even more significant news. Or if not "news", then certainly positive noises from the Australian Football League, that suggest their minds are slowly turning towards the possibility of an AFL club being based in New Zealand one day. For many international footy supporters that would be a dream come true and surely go a long way to entrenching the game across the Tasman, opening the door to Australia one day playing a competitive international in Australian football.
The key comments were reported in several articles such as on Sportal on October 31st titled NZ team AFL's long-term goal, which obviously came about when the AFL's Gillon McLachlan was discussing the 2013 AFL match in Wellington. Another key thing to note is that in an AFL re-structure McLachlan was recently given the title Deputy CEO, which has been widely interpreted as flagging him as the leading candidate to one day replace current AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou. Thus McLachlan speaks as someone with a key role to play in the AFL's future (though ultimately the AFL Commission directs the overall vision).
Tatupu is currently training with the Hawks in Melbourne. He will continue to train with the club during school holidays for 2013 but will finiish his schooling in NZ, unlike Heatherley who has been at school in Melbourne the last two years.
AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan told hawthornfc.com.au "We congratulate Hawthorn on having the initiative to do it, to be the first club to move on this"
"When we introduced the South Pacific into the under-16s championships three years ago we could see there's going to be potential emerge, and these are the first two boys to come through."