Over the next few days, AFL New Zealand media takes a look at each of the four AFL New Zealand Premiership sides for the upcoming 2018 competition and highlight some of the key players who will make an impact during the season. First up, it’s the defending premiers, the Southern Saints.
After winning their maiden title in 2017, the Southern Saints return with an experienced squad who will strive to become the first team to win back to back Premierships. Only conceding an average of 34 points per game, the Saints defence held strong all season and with with key names such as, Captain Michael Boyce and Andriu Sucu headlining that area of the ground, they will be hard to score against in 2018.
The Saints scored a big win in the 2017 National Draft after selecting exciting young talent Misilifi Faimalo from the Northern Suns. With former Saints Sam McKenzie, Josh Cunliffe and Harison Manks joining the Central Giants, Faimalo will slot into the midfield alongside Carlos Donnell-Brown.
2017 position: 1st
Predicted position in 2018: 3rd
Player to watch: Andriu Sucu
His performance in the backline for the Saints in 2017 earned him the Best and Fairest award and joined his younger brother Brandon as the first two recipients to hold the award as best player in the competition.
Having played the sport for ten years, Andriu’s height and strength along with his knowledge of the game could prove vital in close games throughout the season.
Get excited: Misilifi Faimalo
First introduced to the game through the AFL Cup Secondary Schools competition, Misilifi‘s pace, skills and evasiveness shows why he was a standout at this year’s AFL International Cup.
Misilifi was a key player for the Northern Suns over the past two seasons in the AFL New Zealand Premiership and will fill the void in the Saints midfield left by Sam McKenzie, Harison Manks and Josh Cunliffe.