In the tapestry of sporting camaraderie between New Zealand and Australia, a unique partnership could take place on the Australian Football League (AFL) stage. Max Gawn’s journey from Greymouth to Melbourne, combined with Rowan Marshall’s rise from the shores of Taranaki to St Kilda, paints a picture of trans-Tasman excellence and shared passion.
Gawn’s journey is one of inspiration – from a rugby-playing background to becoming the beacon of hope for the Melbourne Demons. As captain of his winning team in the 2021 Grand Final and now a 200-game stalwart of the club, he epitomises the heights that can be reached when talent meets dedication.
Meanwhile, Rowan Marshall, born in New Zealand’s Taranaki region, has carved his path with the St Kilda Saints. His journey showcases the global allure of AFL and how a Kiwi can thrive in the heart of Australian sports. St Kilda will target their first finals campaign in three years, their first grand final appearance since 2010 and their first Premiership in 57 years.
Sounds like a difficult achievement, but it is one that Gawn himself would know very well having faced the same equation in 2021 following Melbourne’s own Premiership drought of the same period of 57 years.
The potential for both Gawn and Marshall to earn coveted spots in the 2023 All-Australian team is a testament to their undeniable talent. Max Gawn’s leadership and unparalleled skills as a ruck man have earned him the captaincy of the Melbourne Demons, a rare honour that underscores his significance to the team. His performance in the 2021 Preliminary Final, booting five goals in addition to his usual ruck duties, demonstrated his multifaceted impact – a feat akin to a rugby forward contributing points alongside traditional responsibilities.
Rowan Marshall’s journey to the upper echelons of the AFL has been equally impressive. His rise from his early childhood in New Zealand to become an influential player for St Kilda exemplifies the global reach of Australian rules football. Marshall’s versatility as a ruck man and his ability to impact the game in various roles highlight his adaptability, and his importance over the remaining weeks of the 2023 AFL Premiership season.
If both Gawn and Marshall secure their spots in the 2023 All-Australian team, it would mark a historic achievement for players with New Zealand heritage in the AFL. Their selection would not only recognise their individual brilliance but also underscore the significant contributions that Kiwi athletes can bring to the league. The trans-Tasman connection between Gawn and Marshall would stand as a testament to the shared passion and respect that bind Australia and New Zealand, two nations that have long enjoyed a competitive and friendly rivalry in various sporting arenas.
In a year that has seen the Melbourne Demons continue to impact on the finals make up and St Kilda rise as a competitive force, the potential All-Australian selection of Max Gawn and Rowan Marshall would not only be a testament to their exceptional talent but also a celebration of their New Zealand roots.
In a world where sporting dreams know no boundaries, Gawn and Marshall stand as beacons of inspiration for aspiring athletes on both sides of the Tasman Sea.