AFLNZ Academy kicks off

The AFL New Zealand Academy has kicked off, with an immensely talented group of athletes set to make their mark on the sport of AFL over the coming weeks and months.


The athletes have been selected for their teams and will play the first round of their Regional Competition matches this weekend. The Academy will focus heavily on gameplay as the best method for improving the skills and fitness of all involved.

Initial testing was conducted over the weekend, to gauge the baseline skills of the participating athletes. From here, they will be provided with guidance and support for improvement, and empowered to take responsibility for their  nutrition, development and fitness.

Over the course of the Academy programme, testing will continue, culminating in the top 40 athletes being selected to attend the AFL New Zealand National Combine in April. This event, which will run in conjunction with the ANZAC Day match between the St Kilda Saints and Carlton Blues, will be attended by talent scouts from a variety of AFL clubs.

In the first week of testing, a few players stood out as those who had previously worked hard at their kicking and handballing skills. Siope Ngata, Ben Armstrong and Dylan Absalom scored the highest for handballing in their regions. Kicking results were more clustered, with a three way tie in Northland, a six way tie in Wellington, and Josh Copeland narrowly beating Carlos Donnell-Brown in Auckland. Josh Copeland’s score was a perfect 20 out of 20.

AFL New Zealand High Performance National Development Manager was delighted with the first intake into the AFL New Zealand Academy.

“No matter what code they were playing, these young men would be outstanding. It’s fantastic that they’ve chosen to have a crack at AFL as part of the Academy, and we know they will come out the other end as better athletes in every way.”

Some of the players involved have already played at high levels of other sports. Naitoa Ah Kuoi has represented New Zealand at Water Polo and Wellington Secondary Schools at rugby. Kahurangi Robinson has played beach volleyball for New Zealand, and Siope Ngata is part of the Blues Development Squad, along with being a Hawthorn Hawks International Scholarship holder.

8 teams in total have been selected for Regional Competitions, with three each in Wellington and Auckland, and two in Northland. These teams will play off against each other over six rounds, with athletes working towards National League fixtures, to be held in March and April.

From here, the cream of the Academy will be selected to represent New Zealand in a series of fixtures, both at home and away.

Further athletes will be selected to join the AFL New Zealand Academy, through school programmes, and the upcoming Senior Hawks Cup schools competition.

Effective coaching is considered a vital element of the AFL New Zealand Academy, and the programme is well served by a strong group of mentors and coaches, drawn from the ranks of current and former AFL New Zealand High Performance players, parents, volunteers and local club players.

The previous involvement of coaches varies widely. Rowena Tatana in Northland has been an assistant coach of the U18 New Zealand Kahu. Chris Mundell, Michael Boyce and Matt Kemp are all club stalwarts in Auckland. Shannon Wall in Wellington was the personal coach of St Kilda Saints International Scholarship player Joe Baker-Thomas. Joey te Whata and Jeff Silby are teachers who have led their school Hawks Cup teams.

Each coach will have the opportunity to take on a Head Coaching role over the season for the purposes of development and growth, while under the guidance Regional Academy Directors. AFL New Zealand Wellington Development Manager Sam McKenzie will direct in Wellington, with U18 New Zealand Kahu Assistant Coaches Jamie Hunt and Michael Gregson directing in Auckland and Northland respectively. All are also AFL players, with McKenzie and Gregson current members of the Senior New Zealand Hawks.

For players, coaches and management staff, the pathway provided by the AFL New Zealand Academy will serve as a platform for developing skills and confidence, both on and off the field.




Magpies Magpies logo no collingwood

Coached by Shannon Wall

BrandonAbsalomWellington College
IshPerkinsWellington College
ElekosiFuiavaTawa College
NaitoaAh KuoiWellington College
ShaunHanningSt Pats Silverstream
HarleyKeeneTawa College
EdwardBloomfieldTawa College
NathanNgairaTawa College
JamesWatkinsWellington College
NathanLenihanSt Pats Silverstream
RhyleeIoane-FidowHutt Valley High School


LionsBrisbane_Lions_logo_2010 brisbane cut

Coached by Gregor Kempt

LewisGillOnslow College
CullenPhippsTawa College
TobyKennettTawa College
Utusa’itoaAh KuoiWellington College
DamonHarris-ChandlerTawa College
JackMathesonSt Pats Silverstream
Richard (Misilifi)FaimaloPorirua College
ScottRaePorirua College
BenjaminTaankink-WilliamsWellington College
AlexAwatereAotea College
Willemvander Wilt


Bulldogs Western_Bulldogs_(SVG)

Coached by Kieran Hulker

WilliamKemptSt Pats Silverstream
ZekielIoanePorirua College
SamGreenWellington College
MitchellStringerHutt Valley High School
ZacVaughanHutt Valley High School
DylanAbsalomWellington College
FrancisPedersenSt Pats College
BraydenHerewiniRongatai College
LoganSiaosiWellington College
ConnorMcGeoughSt Pats Silverstream



TigersRichmond Tigers logo no text

Coached by Chris Mundell, Jeff Silby and Justin Clark

JoesephAlesich-TamarikiRosmini College
LewiBarrow-YoungNorthcote College
TylerPolleyBirkenhead College
JirahMomoiseaSt Pauls College
TobiasShawGreenbay High School
JackMorrisGreenbay High School
CullenMarstersSt Pauls College
JordanEtealeManurewa High School
NoahLavemaiauSt Pauls College
JaredLewisAorere College
JoshuaCopelandWestlake Boys High School
JamesLittleTakapuna Grammar
WilliamKainanaAorere College
KahurangiRobinsonWestern Heights High School
WilliamMarstersManurewa High School


Magpies Magpies logo no collingwood

Coached by Liam Beattie, Matt Kemp, Mitch Ryan and Fran Serrano

AlexAnslowAlbany Junior High School
IsaacPiperSt Peters College
DeclanCrannGreenbay High School
TamatoaTepaeaEdgewater College
TybergMauafuaMission Heights Junior College
ZakMartinNorthcote College
Christian-JordanTupouSt Pauls College
JoelBrownSt Pauls College
MilanSundermannLynfield College
AlistairMaiseyLynfield College
KalibLewisAorere College
GiovanniMountain – SilberyAorere College
DanielCarstonRotorua Lakes High School
BradleyMunroWestern Heights High School
DawsonMele-NanaiSouthern Cross Campus


LionsBrisbane_Lions_logo_2010 brisbane cut

Coached by David Abbetz, Michael Boyce and Joey te Whata

JakeTuckerNorthcote College
NathanHalloren-McLeanGreenbay High School
RockyMomosieaSt Pauls College
SebastianSerranoSacred Heart College
DesmondSheck-AndrewsMarcellin College
DouglasMalakiManurewa High School
LukeDunningAlbany Junior High School
MitchTe WhataWaitakere College
JacksonRollestonTai Wananga
ZeonMcNabbRosehill College
CarlosDonnell-BrownGreenbay High School
SiopeNgataAorere College
RawiriMilne,Western Springs College
MasiuVainikoloWestern Heights High School




TigersRichmond Tigers logo no text

Coached by Brendan Rosetta

BlakeWilliamsonWhangarei Boys High School
JordanSkinnerWhangarei Boys High School
ShaydenWaetfordDargaville High School
MichaelToekeBay of Islands College
BenArmstrongBay of Islands College
JarodByrnesWhangarei Boys High School
HarleySwinbourn – KingKeri Keri High School
SouthenSmithBay of Islands College
JoshWoodhamKeri Keri High School


Bulldogs Western_Bulldogs_(SVG)

Coached by Grant Caldwell and Rowena Tatana

MichaelIwashitaWhangarei Boys High School
RanieraTaneDargaville High School
LachlanKennedyWhangarei Boys High School
MaxStuartBay of Islands College
LiamCaldwellWhangarei Boys High School
HarrisonJohnsonWhangarei Boys High School
IsraelIrvingDargaville High School
Te KopaTipene-ThomasBay of Islands College
HamishLucasBream Bay College
JoeWadmanKeri Keri High School