Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Aussie rules an option for some kiwi sportsmen...

  • 7467561:yes:
    AFL or Aussie Rules keen to provide NZ alternative...

  • New Zealand's best young sportsmen have the chance to impress AFL scouts in Wellilngton as the code looks to expand across the Tasman.
    Competing head on with rugby union and league for players in New Zealand isn't on the AFL's agenda, says national talent manager Kevin Sheehan.
    Instead, he says Victoria's premier oval ball code is just looking to provide another choice for talented young Kiwis.
    "We don't see ourselves as competition - we like to see ourselves as being on the menu, just an option.
    "Not everyone's suited to play for the All Blacks or in the NRL," he told NZ Newswire.
    "There's different body types that may be more suited to our game, and we want to give them a professional opportunity."
    The first step on that path began in Wellington on Thursday for 40 hopefuls as they were put through their paces across a range of tests designed to measure speed, agility, endurance and vertical leap.
    Sheehan says the best youngsters in the country have been selected, and nine of the AFL's 18 clubs have travelled across the ditch to see what's on offer.
    "They've got to show their X-factor, something special about them athletically that might appeal to some of these clubs having a look," Sheehan said.
    He points to the example of giant teenager Shem Tatupu as an indication of what New Zealanders can achieve in the challenging sport.
    "This game will challenge you in every respect - it's a game that's played in the 360, in every field. In the air, behind you, there's no offside, you've got to be good on the ground, you've got to be tough and courageous. It's a demanding game in every sense."
    Tatupu, son of former Warriors rugby league player Tony Tatupu, has been listed as an international rookie at Hawthorn although he isn't eligible to join the Hawks' list until the end of this year.
    The 197cm tall 17-year-old, weighing in at 105kg, has agreed to a three-year contract taking him through to the end of the 2016 season.
    Hawthorn have also secured another teenage Kiwi, Kurt Heatherley, on a three-year deal, after he has held an international scholarship at the club since late 2009.
    The AFL recently signalled its interest in expansion across the Tasman, scheduling the first ever match for premiership points outside Australia in Wellington later this year.
    St Kilda will play the Sydney Swans at Westpac Stadium on April 25, and the AFL have also committed to playing two games in New Zealand in 2014 and 2015.
    Acknowledgements: NZN

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