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.
Coached by Shannon Wall
|Naitoa||Ah Kuoi||Wellington College|
|Shaun||Hanning||St Pats Silverstream|
|Nathan||Lenihan||St Pats Silverstream|
|Rhylee||Ioane-Fidow||Hutt Valley High School|
Coached by Gregor Kempt
|Utusa’itoa||Ah Kuoi||Wellington College|
|Jack||Matheson||St Pats Silverstream|
|Richard (Misilifi)||Faimalo||Porirua College|
Coached by Kieran Hulker
|William||Kempt||St Pats Silverstream|
|Mitchell||Stringer||Hutt Valley High School|
|Zac||Vaughan||Hutt Valley High School|
|Francis||Pedersen||St Pats College|
|Connor||McGeough||St Pats Silverstream|
Coached by Chris Mundell, Jeff Silby and Justin Clark
|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|
|Joshua||Copeland||Westlake Boys High School|
|Kahurangi||Robinson||Western Heights High School|
|William||Marsters||Manurewa High School|
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|
|Tyberg||Mauafua||Mission Heights Junior College|
|Christian-Jordan||Tupou||St Pauls College|
|Joel||Brown||St Pauls College|
|Giovanni||Mountain – Silbery||Aorere College|
|Daniel||Carston||Rotorua Lakes High School|
|Bradley||Munro||Western Heights High School|
|Dawson||Mele-Nanai||Southern Cross Campus|
Coached by David Abbetz, Michael Boyce and Joey te Whata
|Nathan||Halloren-McLean||Greenbay High School|
|Rocky||Momosiea||St Pauls College|
|Sebastian||Serrano||Sacred Heart College|
|Douglas||Malaki||Manurewa High School|
|Luke||Dunning||Albany Junior High School|
|Mitch||Te Whata||Waitakere College|
|Carlos||Donnell-Brown||Greenbay High School|
|Rawiri||Milne,||Western Springs College|
|Masiu||Vainikolo||Western Heights High School|
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|
|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|
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|