The Southern Saints coaching position has been filled with the appointment of Andrew Congalton.
Congalton is a well known and respected member of the International football community. The current Senior AFL New Zealand coach, he has a history with New Zealand representative teams that spans back more than a decade. He captained New Zealand in both the 2005 and 2008 International Cups, leading New Zealand to victory in the 2005 campaign and also selected in the World Team in both these campaigns.
Due to ongoing injuries, Congalton changed his focus to coaching with assistant coaching roles with the New Zealand Senior team from 2011 onwards before taking on the lead role for New Zealand earlier this year against the AFL Academy.
His involvement with New Zealand age group teams and an extensive playing career in local leagues is complimented by a successful playing career in an Rugby Union. This provides the perfect knowledge base to mentor young athletic converts as they try AFL for the first time. St Kilda Football Clubs newest International Scholarship holder Barclay Miller, is currently mentored by Congalton in Christchurch.
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Congalton will have an advantage over the other AFL New Zealand Premiership coaches with his knowledge of the Canterbury scene and the potential talent available from the AFL New Zealand National Draft. “I have a fair knowledge of current New Zealand players as do the other coaches but I’m hoping to gain an advantage through a knowledge of both the Auckland and Canterbury fringe players due to my background in Auckland and my current Christchurch base. It will be important to work with regional talent identification personnel to ensure we don’t miss anyone.”
The prospect of another team picking up International recruit Barclay Miller in the draft is something that will need to be considered. “There are three other coaches that will be just as keen as I am to secure Barclay, although from a development point of view it will be good for him to hear other voices. Hopefully he’s not the only Miller in the draft.”
The prospect of former Hawthorn FC International Scholarship and New Zealand representative Ben Millers availability for the 2016 AFL New Zealand National Draft is yet to be confirmed but he likely to feature in the top ten draft selections if available.