MIDFIELDER Will Brodie led the level one NAB AFL Academy team to an 86-point win over New Zealand on Friday in Wellington.
The Murray Bushrangers youngster, who has already emerged as a player to watch ahead of the 2016 draft, kicked three goals and starred for the Australian under-17 team.
The match was the centerpiece of the Academy’s five-day tour to New Zealand, and was played at Westpac Stadium ahead of Saturday’s Anzac Day clash between St Kilda and Carlton.
In front of recruiters from 13 AFL clubs and a crowd of approximately 1500, Brodie competed strongly and showed his class and poise against the overage New Zealand Hawks’ line-up.
“Whether he played forward or midfield he was just all class. His ball-winning ability, his step through the traffic and goal sense made it a pretty complete performance,” said Kevin Sheehan, the AFL’s national talent manager.
“Ben Ainsworth also performed well. He’s just an absolutely brilliant kick for a goal – whether it be as a set-shot or snap kick. He’s strong overhead for a boy his size and he was dynamic as a small forward.”
Jordan Galluci provided strong run from defence to create opportunities, and Jonty Scharenberg, the younger brother of Collingwood’s Matt, also starred with his capacity to find the ball and use it cleanly.
New Zealand was held goalless for the first half, but managed to kick three majors in the third term and hold the Australians to three goals as well. The Academy, coached by Brenton Sanderson, then kicked away in the final quarter, registering five goals.
“The young Australians used their leg speed and superior hand and foot skills to overcome an aggressive tackling New Zealand outfit in a match played in front of an enthusiastic crowd,” Sheehan said.
“The scoreline belies what was a terrific contest. The New Zealanders, with the benefit of extra body weight, experience, and tackling pressure with a rugby background, really put enormous pressure on the Australians.
“But the responded fantastically, and enthralled and entertained the crowd, which included the majority of AFL clubs having a look at the draft class of 2016.”
It was the fourth consecutive year the Australians have overcome their New Zealand opponents. The Academy group travelled to Wellington on Wednesday and will return on Sunday.
AFL ACADEMY 4.2 8.5 11.7 16.1 (107)
NEW ZEALAND 0.0 0.2 3.3 3.3 (21)
AFL Academy: Ainsworth 4, Brodie 3, Scharenberg 2, Galluci, Petrevski-Seton, Mutch, Bowes, Berry, Sproule, Macreadie
New Zealand: McKenzie, Morton, Mundell
AFL Academy: Brodie, Ainsworth, Galluci, Scharenberg, Petrevski-Seton, Slimming, Settlefield, Macreadie
New Zealand: McKenzie, Howison, M.Gregson, W.Gregson, Smith