Otago siblings to represent New Zealand
09 Apr, 2018
For the first time an Otago brother and sister are to represent New Zealand at AFL.
Max and Petra Milne will head to Wellington in two weeks time, where they will play against the Mornington Peninsula Blue Scope Steelers on April 22 and 24.
Max (16) will represent his country for a second time, after playing in the boys level two academy team, a step up from the level one side last year.
It will be Petra’s first time, the 14-year-old playing in the girls level one team in just her first year in the sport.
That left her excited, particularly given her experience so far had come mainly from training against boys and men in Dunedin.
“I’m really excited,” she said.
“It’ll be good to meet all the other people in my team.
“I’m not really too sure what to expect, obviously when I get up there it’ll be my first game.
“I don’t know how well the other girls are going to play. It’ll be interesting.”
She had followed Max into the sport.
He started playing four years ago after Otago coach Warwick Kain — who was teaching at Otago Boys’ High School at the time — promoted AFL to the pupils.
While competition in Dunedin was limited, he had travelled to Christchurch to play some games, as well as playing for New Zealand last year.
Over winter he played rugby, which was something he felt helped develop his aggression, one of his strengths in AFL.
“Australians don’t play rugby as much, so they don’t have the physical side, but we do from playing rugby,” he said.
“They’ve got heaps of skill and are real fast, though, so you can’t compete with that as much.”
Petra played rugby as well, while also doing athletics and cross-country running.Her fitness from that had been important for her in AFL.
Indeed, Kain said her fast 2km time, persistence training and improving skills had been the key to her selection.
A pupil at Otago Girls’ High School, Petra hoped to get more of her friends into the sport. Not many girls were involved at present.
Meanwhile, Otago Riot player Heta Scarf-Matthew has been named in the New Zealand senior men’s team, while Reyne Westbury will head coach the men’s level one academy team.
Story – Otago Daily Times