AFL New Zealand will work towards the announcement of a 50 person training squad in July 2018, as a plan in set in motion to secure the August 2020, International Cup.
Historically, every three years, the International Cup has taken place in Melbourne with the final taking place at the MCG. New Zealand has competed in the Mens competition in every year the tournament has taken place since its inception in 2002.
The lowest it has placed in the 6 tournaments to date is third, with the highlights, a single victory in 2005 and two close losses to arch rivals Papua New Guinea by 7 points in 2008 and most recently by a single point at the MCG final in 2017.
The inception of the Development Player Programme implemented within the AFL New Zealand Premiership, has born some strong results to date. This has been displayed most recently with the successful results produced by the touring New Zealand Under 18 team who recently produced its first ever victory against an Australian team when they defeated the Mornington Peninsula Junior Football League, in Melbourne in May earlier this year.
Twenty two of the twenty four players that represented, have done so by progressing through as a Development Player in the AFL New Zealand Premiership and this extends to the wider squad including a further 11 players.
In regards to talent development, AFL New Zealand is well placed to expect a selection of AFLNZ Premiership Development Players from 2017, 2018 and even 2019 to be push for selection in the final 2020 International Cup squad. A significant number of the player group to be announced are expected to based in Australia competing within the Australian system. Although these numbers are limited due to International Cup qualification standards, there will be a group of quality inclusions that will add to the experience and compliment youthful talent.
The two year plan is expected to include the following selection criteria, essential to maintain squad inclusion;
- Full participation in both training and playing schedules for the 2019 and 2020 Premiership seasons. (Australian based players to match with current Australian clubs)
- Attendance at scheduled regional face to face organisational sessions. (Scheduled between July to Apr between 2018 to 2020)
- Commitment to a remote training plan. (Programmes to be individually designed with the ability to be completed remotely)
- Commitment to Regional League Competitions between August to December in 2018 and 2019.
The Under 18 New Zealand programme will run in conjunction with the Senior programme as the youthful talent continues to develop towards Senior representation.