AFLNZ Academy kicks off

09 Feb, 2015

The AFL New Zealand Academy has kicked off, with an immensely talented group of athletes set to make their mark on the sport of AFL over the coming weeks and months.


The athletes have been selected for their teams and will play the first round of their Regional Competition matches this weekend. The Academy will focus heavily on gameplay as the best method for improving the skills and fitness of all involved.

Initial testing was conducted over the weekend, to gauge the baseline skills of the participating athletes. From here, they will be provided with guidance and support for improvement, and empowered to take responsibility for their  nutrition, development and fitness.

Over the course of the Academy programme, testing will continue, culminating in the top 40 athletes being selected to attend the AFL New Zealand National Combine in April. This event, which will run in conjunction with the ANZAC Day match between the St Kilda Saints and Carlton Blues, will be attended by talent scouts from a variety of AFL clubs.

In the first week of testing, a few players stood out as those who had previously worked hard at their kicking and handballing skills. Siope Ngata, Ben Armstrong and Dylan Absalom scored the highest for handballing in their regions. Kicking results were more clustered, with a three way tie in Northland, a six way tie in Wellington, and Josh Copeland narrowly beating Carlos Donnell-Brown in Auckland. Josh Copeland’s score was a perfect 20 out of 20.

AFL New Zealand High Performance National Development Manager was delighted with the first intake into the AFL New Zealand Academy.

“No matter what code they were playing, these young men would be outstanding. It’s fantastic that they’ve chosen to have a crack at AFL as part of the Academy, and we know they will come out the other end as better athletes in every way.”

Some of the players involved have already played at high levels of other sports. Naitoa Ah Kuoi has represented New Zealand at Water Polo and Wellington Secondary Schools at rugby. Kahurangi Robinson has played beach volleyball for New Zealand, and Siope Ngata is part of the Blues Development Squad, along with being a Hawthorn Hawks International Scholarship holder.

8 teams in total have been selected for Regional Competitions, with three each in Wellington and Auckland, and two in Northland. These teams will play off against each other over six rounds, with athletes working towards National League fixtures, to be held in March and April.

From here, the cream of the Academy will be selected to represent New Zealand in a series of fixtures, both at home and away.

Further athletes will be selected to join the AFL New Zealand Academy, through school programmes, and the upcoming Senior Hawks Cup schools competition.

Effective coaching is considered a vital element of the AFL New Zealand Academy, and the programme is well served by a strong group of mentors and coaches, drawn from the ranks of current and former AFL New Zealand High Performance players, parents, volunteers and local club players.

The previous involvement of coaches varies widely. Rowena Tatana in Northland has been an assistant coach of the U18 New Zealand Kahu. Chris Mundell, Michael Boyce and Matt Kemp are all club stalwarts in Auckland. Shannon Wall in Wellington was the personal coach of St Kilda Saints International Scholarship player Joe Baker-Thomas. Joey te Whata and Jeff Silby are teachers who have led their school Hawks Cup teams.

Each coach will have the opportunity to take on a Head Coaching role over the season for the purposes of development and growth, while under the guidance Regional Academy Directors. AFL New Zealand Wellington Development Manager Sam McKenzie will direct in Wellington, with U18 New Zealand Kahu Assistant Coaches Jamie Hunt and Michael Gregson directing in Auckland and Northland respectively. All are also AFL players, with McKenzie and Gregson current members of the Senior New Zealand Hawks.

For players, coaches and management staff, the pathway provided by the AFL New Zealand Academy will serve as a platform for developing skills and confidence, both on and off the field.




Magpies Magpies logo no collingwood

Coached by Shannon Wall

Brandon Absalom Wellington College
Ish Perkins Wellington College
Elekosi Fuiava Tawa College
Naitoa Ah Kuoi Wellington College
Shaun Hanning St Pats Silverstream
Harley Keene Tawa College
Edward Bloomfield Tawa College
Nathan Ngaira Tawa College
James Watkins Wellington College
Nathan Lenihan St Pats Silverstream
Rhylee Ioane-Fidow Hutt Valley High School


LionsBrisbane_Lions_logo_2010 brisbane cut

Coached by Gregor Kempt

Lewis Gill Onslow College
Cullen Phipps Tawa College
Toby Kennett Tawa College
Utusa’itoa Ah Kuoi Wellington College
Damon Harris-Chandler Tawa College
Jack Matheson St Pats Silverstream
Richard (Misilifi) Faimalo Porirua College
Scott Rae Porirua College
Benjamin Taankink-Williams Wellington College
Alex Awatere Aotea College
Willem vander Wilt


Bulldogs Western_Bulldogs_(SVG)

Coached by Kieran Hulker

William Kempt St Pats Silverstream
Zekiel Ioane Porirua College
Sam Green Wellington College
Mitchell Stringer Hutt Valley High School
Zac Vaughan Hutt Valley High School
Jackson Shervey
Dylan Absalom Wellington College
Francis Pedersen St Pats College
Brayden Herewini Rongatai College
Logan Siaosi Wellington College
Connor McGeough St Pats Silverstream



TigersRichmond Tigers logo no text

Coached by Chris Mundell, Jeff Silby and Justin Clark

Joeseph Alesich-Tamariki Rosmini College
Lewi Barrow-Young Northcote College
Tyler Polley Birkenhead College
Jirah Momoisea St Pauls College
Tobias Shaw Greenbay High School
Jack Morris Greenbay High School
Cullen Marsters St Pauls College
Jordan Eteale Manurewa High School
Noah Lavemaiau St Pauls College
Jared Lewis Aorere College
Joshua Copeland Westlake Boys High School
James Little Takapuna Grammar
William Kainana Aorere College
Kahurangi Robinson Western Heights High School
William Marsters Manurewa High School


Magpies Magpies logo no collingwood

Coached by Liam Beattie, Matt Kemp, Mitch Ryan and Fran Serrano

Alex Anslow Albany Junior High School
Isaac Piper St Peters College
Declan Crann Greenbay High School
Tamatoa Tepaea Edgewater College
Tyberg Mauafua Mission Heights Junior College
Zak Martin Northcote College
Christian-Jordan Tupou St Pauls College
Joel Brown St Pauls College
Milan Sundermann Lynfield College
Alistair Maisey Lynfield College
Kalib Lewis Aorere College
Giovanni Mountain – Silbery Aorere College
Daniel Carston Rotorua Lakes High School
Bradley Munro Western Heights High School
Dawson Mele-Nanai Southern Cross Campus


LionsBrisbane_Lions_logo_2010 brisbane cut

Coached by David Abbetz, Michael Boyce and Joey te Whata

Jake Tucker Northcote College
Nathan Halloren-McLean Greenbay High School
Rocky Momosiea St Pauls College
Sebastian Serrano Sacred Heart College
Desmond Sheck-Andrews Marcellin College
Douglas Malaki Manurewa High School
Luke Dunning Albany Junior High School
Mitch Te Whata Waitakere College
Jackson Rolleston Tai Wananga
Zeon McNabb Rosehill College
Carlos Donnell-Brown Greenbay High School
Siope Ngata Aorere College
Rawiri Milne, Western Springs College
Masiu Vainikolo Western Heights High School




TigersRichmond Tigers logo no text

Coached by Brendan Rosetta

Blake Williamson Whangarei Boys High School
Jordan Skinner Whangarei Boys High School
Shayden Waetford Dargaville High School
Michael Toeke Bay of Islands College
Diani Timms
Ben Armstrong Bay of Islands College
Jarod Byrnes Whangarei Boys High School
Harley Swinbourn – King Keri Keri High School
Southen Smith Bay of Islands College
Josh Woodham Keri Keri High School


Bulldogs Western_Bulldogs_(SVG)

Coached by Grant Caldwell and Rowena Tatana

Michael Iwashita Whangarei Boys High School
Raniera Tane Dargaville High School
Lachlan Kennedy Whangarei Boys High School
Max Stuart Bay of Islands College
Liam Caldwell Whangarei Boys High School
Harrison Johnson Whangarei Boys High School
Israel Irving Dargaville High School
Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas Bay of Islands College
Hamish Lucas Bream Bay College
Joe Wadman Keri Keri High School

About the author

Related Posts