The hype surrounding New Zealander Kurt Heatherley continues to grow. Well respected AFL junior guru Kevin Sheehan says Heatherley is doing everything right as he learns the game at Caulfield Grammar and with the Hawthorn Football Club.
There was a good article on Adelaide Now regarding Port Adelaide's Fijian players mentoring an up and coming player of Fijian descent. In particular Port fullback Alipate Carlisle has been encouraging Aseri Raikiwasa as the 18 year old strives to make the AFL. Much to the youngster's surprise Carlisle contacted Aseri via Facebook and has been in contact with him ever since. Aseri was born in South Australia and grew up on the Eyre Peninsula, but has strong Fijian roots and in 2004 returned to visit his family. He is now playing with Port Magpies reserves in the SANFL and was SA's vice captain at the U18 champs.
As already discussed on WFN, Samoa will not compete at this year’s International Cup. This is obviously hugely disappointing to the international football community, let alone the Samoans themselves after being a stalwart of international competition in the South Pacific since the Arafura Festivals in Darwin.
Behind their withdrawal lie a number of factors. These include most significantly the fact that the Samoans have not been able to develop any enduring local competition, that the AYAD Officer (Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development) who have previously done a lot of the on-ground development (Michael Roberts who is now at the Dandenong Stingrays in the TAC Cup) has not been replaced and therefore due to the lack of organisation funding streams could not be put in place, particularly given the massive tsunami that devastated the country in 2009.
Three Greater Western Sydney GIANTS International Scholarship players from Nauru, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea will tomorrow join the GIANTS for training at Blacktown International Sportspark.
Yoshi Harris(Nauru), Charlton Brown (NZ) and Theo Gavuri (PNG) have all been signed by the GIANTS under the AFL’s International Scholarship scheme and are currently in Australia playing for the South Pacific Nations side in the Under 16 National Championships.
AFL club Hawthorn recently played host to International Scholarship holder Rhys Panui-Leth and his parents Luke and Marion, as the youngster undertook testing and skills training with the Hawks. In other recent news Kurt Heatherley, another Hawthorn Scholarship holder, has been starring in Victoria and Shaun Johnson who has previously played AFL in NZ has debuted for the NRL’s Warriors.
Panui-Leth chronicles his training trip with Hawthorn here.
The Hawks' third scholarship player from New Zealand - Shem Tatupu from Auckland - will also be at Waverley Park to train with the Hawks in coming months.
Looking at other junior AFL talent from NZ football we can compare Kurt Heatherley, who was recently named best on ground for the top of the table Caulfield Grammarians in their win against Wesley College, with Shaun Johnson. Johnson has just debuted for the Warriors in the NRL and according to Rugby League legend Andrew Johns ''He's one of those players who don't come around too often. Johnson was a Junior Kiwi last year and a New Zealand representative in Aussie Rules." At the very least it acknowledges that AFL is a contributing factor to players making the top grade in other sports even if they don’t stick with footy.
The video below from the Brisbane Lions website sees Jamie Charman interviewing PNG young gun Donald Barry about his life in Brisbane and reflects on AFL visits to PNG and the realities of life there. Barry was a star for PNG at the 2008 International Cup and a genuine case of a young player who started off playing the game overseas but has come right to the cusp of AFL selection. If the embedded video does not work try this link.
One of the big surprises of season 2010 was the inclusion of not just one, but two International squads in the NAB AFL Under 16 National Championships. With the 2011 tournament a month away (beginning in Sydney on July 10), it’s been good to see that both squads will have a 2011 incarnation. Whilst the World XVIII squad is still to be finalised; below is the recently released South Pacific list.
AFL Asia Pacific Development Manager Andrew Cadzow describes the formation of the squad, “After holding two Oceania Cups of which the standard of the second in Tonga had improved vastly, we are confident that the South Pacific Squad will be a better team than last year's very successful first attempt. More Countries involved; improved programs and more games of footy augers well. With 11 players returning from last year, we are well balanced with 15 top age (18s) and 14 younger (16/17) making up the squad.”
The South Pacific defeated the World XVIII last time and pushed Queensland to 15 points, so will be looking for an Australian scalp this time around. While the squad is dominated by PNG players, there are also representatives from NZ, Tonga, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. The full squad is listed below.
The following matchday report is provided by AFL Vanuatu.
ERAKOR GOLDEN STAR AFL CLEAN SWEEP OVER MELE
Round Two of the AFL Vanuatu competition saw Erakor Golden Star AFL Club win a clean sweep of all divisions played this Saturday as hosts at Erakor Sal Wota Field.
The under 12 division game however only saw a result after Erakor’s Colson Kalsaru kick truly after the siren to register a win for the host club – the first win for Golden Star club in season 2011. Erakor 5.8.(38) def Mele 5.3.(33). Colson Kalsaru kicked three goals for Erakor in a dominant performance.
The women’s game was a walk-over win for Erakor as Mele AFL do not currently have a women’s team however a demonstration match was played amongst the Erakor female players.
A heated affair in the U/16 saw Erakor run out winners by 130 points however the score line distorts the fact that in many respects, it was an even affair (Editor: that's a big call!). Mele’s Alfred Malas was awesome all day but Erakor were better across the field. Erakor goal kickers Takau 9 & Charlie Sablon 6 combined with Erakors generally dominant ball movements meant that they had a lot more scoring opportunities, which they rarely wasted. All day though, the effort at ball was typical of two clubs who are both well aware that spots in the U/16 national squad are up for grabs.
Shane Savage fromHawthorn Football Club is the Round Eight NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.The 20-year-old New Zealand born midfielder played his best match for the Hawks with a career-high 26 disposals, 14 marks, five tackles and two goals in the 30-point win over St Kilda at the MCG on Sunday.
Shane debuted for the Hawks in 2009 and played the last three matches of the home and away season. Despite being named as an emergency eight times in 2010, he made no senior appearances. In 2011 Shane has now played in all eight matches for the Hawks.
New Zealand Rugby League has selected Melbourne Storm winger Matt Duffie into their national team, the Kiwis. The 20-year-old scored two tries on debut for the Storm last year against the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL. He is hoping to make a similar impact in the Test arena as he makes his Test debut against the Kangaroos on the Gold Coast on Friday night.
The St Kentigern's, Auckland old boy, who was once selected for the New Zealand Aussie Rules team, has been in great form this season, scoring five tries in the five matches and has proven to be a master under the high-ball.
Duffie admits his AFL background has helped him in the rival code. "I just got into AFL just for a kick-around and something to do on a Sunday, but the skills that I learned there have helped me a lot in my career so far and hopefully they'll continue to help me."
Duffie was selected in the original squad for the 2008 International Cup but withdrew when signed to the NRL’s Storm. The withdrawal of the high flying 18 year old at that stage was a tremendous loss to the squad.
Given the changes that have occurred since then with International recruitment, and particularly with Hawthorn’s efforts in NZ, it could have been that Duffie laid the groundwork as an AFL player for others such as Kurt Heatherley to follow.