The upcoming AFL New Zealand National Provincial Championships in Auckland will feature a raft of talent who will be playing in the 2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership commencing in February next year.
Overall there are 50 players playing in the NPC that have either been retained or drafted into the four Premiership sides and the remaining 50 players will have the opportunity to be included in the secondary draft in January next year.
The Auckland Buccaneers will have home ground advantage and will look to a field a strong, talented squad with a large contingent of AFL New Zealand Premiership talent on display. Central Giants Captain Sam McKenzie will be joined by new Giants recruit Harison Manks in the squad. Western Crows superstar midfielder Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas will team up alongside Southern Saints young gun Carlos Donnell-Brown.
Wellington came close to winning in 2016 and have put plans in place to go one step further this in 2017. Key squad members include Northern Suns Premiership Captain James Kusel and will look to make a big impact up front, while the new Southern Saints midfield pairing of Josh Morgan-Ranui and Misiflifi Faimalo will look to wreak havoc in the midfield.
Canterbury have won four of the past six tournaments including a hat-trick of wins from 2010 to 2012. The Cobra’s finished third in Wellington last December but will boast a strong squad which includes the Western Crows Premiership trio of Jay Johnson, Sean Butler and Brad Mavor in the midfield. Cobra’s and Central Giants Head Coach Izaak Williams has put good measures in place to ensure that they will be a force once again in 2017.
Otago will also be competing, and whilst they are yet to register an NPC win, their strength and depth is growing. Northern Suns midfielder, Josh Mackie was the youngest squad member in the New Zealand 2017 International Cup squad and will provide the Otago Riot with both pace and stamina. Josh will be playing in the midfield for Otago alongside fellow Suns squad members Will Dickinson and Heta Scarf-Matthews. Central Giants midfielder Tristan Burnett will make an impact in the contest while new star recruit James McKenzie will no doubt get his name on the scoresheet over the weekend.
It is the first time that the NPC will be held at QBE Stadium in Albany, a venue which has hosted the past two AFL New Zealand Premiership seasons. Each team will play one game on Saturday the 9th, and two games on Sunday the 10th.
Saturday December 9th 2017
1.30pm GAME 1 Wellington vs Auckland
3.00pm GAME 2 Canterbury vs Otago
Sunday December 10th 2017
9.30am GAME 3 Wellington vs Otago
11.00am GAME 4 Canterbury vs Auckland
1.30pm GAME 5 Auckland vs Otago
3.00pm GAME 6 Canterbury vs Wellington
5.00pm Tournament Concludes