Athletes take opportunities at National Combine

The AFL New Zealand National Combine has been held successfully, showing talented athletes the many opportunities that are available through AFL.

Talent scouts from a majority of AFL clubs were in attendance, viewing young athletes to potentially sign to AFL International Scholarships.

With the Senior Hawks Cup being held in term 1 of 2014, all National Combine participants will have a great opportunity to further their skills in AFL and as athletes. National Combine participants are strongly encouraged to compete in this tournament, which can also lead to opportunities to be seen by AFL talent scouts.

With three New Zealanders currently on International Scholarships with AFL clubs, and a further two having graduated from the programme to being elevated to their club’s rookie list, a real opportunity exists for New Zealanders who wish to make a career out of AFL.

National Combine participants were invited to attend based on their results in Regional Combines, held around the country in late 2013. The top 40 athletes who have been involved with the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme were invited to attend.

The AFL New Zealand Combine programme primarily tests athletic skills. Participants are tested in the 20-metre sprint, vertical leap and 20-metre agility test, before running through drills that test AFL specific skills. The day concludes with all participants competing in the Beep Test.

The results from the 2014 National Combine were phenomenal, and included some of the best results ever seen in New Zealand. Ben Armstrong of Bay of Islands College set a new Australasian record in the agility test, with Te Kopa Tipene Thomas also putting in a time that would have been a record had it not been bettered by Armstrong.

Taiapua Watene of Hamilton Boys High School also set fantastic times in a range of tests. He both won the 20 metre sprint, and placed 3rd in the 20 metre agility test. Mackenzie Manaton of Kamo High School in Northland set the best score in the vertical leap, in the process equalling the previous New Zealand record.

The Regional and National Combines are an important element of the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme, which also includes training, match and development elements. Opportunities exist for the best athletes to represent New Zealand at AFL, an honour that a small number of Combine participants have achieved at age group level.

In terms of future involvement in AFL, the best upcoming opportunity is the Senior Hawks Cup, with Regional Cluster Tournaments to be held in Week 3 of Term 1. In previous years athletes have been signed by talent scouts based on performance in these competitions.

For those who continue with the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme, the next major opportunity to gain selection into a New Zealand team will come through the Under 16 and Under 18 National Championships, to be held in March and April respectively.


Combine Participants and Schools:

Bay of Islands College:

Ben Armstrong, Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas

Western Heights High School:

Bradley Munro, Masiu Vainikolo, Kahurangi Robinson

Rongotai College:

Brayden Herewini

Westlake Boys High School:

Jack Heighton, Joshua Copeland

Kamo High School:

Mackenzie Manaton, Jesse Chapman, Greg Jackman

Albany Junior High School:

Ihsan’Quan Parker

Albany Senior High School

James Little

Green Bay High School:

Danny O’Callaghan, Carlos Donnell-Brown

Hamilton Boys High School:

Taiapua Watene

Whangarei Boys High School:

Alex Barnsley, Diani Timms, Te Rei Clark

Wellington College:

Utusa’itoa Ah Kuoi

St Paul’s College:

TyAaron Leniu, Jirah Momoisea

St Patrick’s College:

Sam Baylis, Grayson Whitman, Francis Pederson

Tai Wananga:

Jackson Rolleston, Braeden Onehi

Aorere College:

Giovani Silbery, Christian Harriman, Kaleb Lewis, William Kainana,

Southern Cross Campus:

Naisa Taylor, Ma Vae Manuika,

Rosmini College:

Nathan Curran

Paraparaumu College:

Kieran Brunel

Porirua College:

Waylon Baker

Papatoetoe High School:

Walter Fifita

Wellington High School:

Naitoa Ah Kuoi