The Auckland AFL returns this Sunday, September 1st with all 6 clubs vying to become the 2019 AAFL Premiers.
The University Blues enter the 2019 season as defending Premiers and are acutely aware they will be a target every round of the competition.
Their engine room in the middle the park is based around NZ Reps: Ben Hick, Liam Beattie and Tim Stokes. Add in the bruising play of Seb Serrano, the finesse of Patrick Landry, and the relentless tagging of Louis Herman-Watt and the Blues’ midfield commands respect.
Up forward, Sam Anderson will look to continue the fine form that made him the AFLNZ Premiership Golden Boot and which brought NZ honours in April. He’ll find plenty of assistance from James Considine, who kicked bags of goals during the Premiership, and veterans Thomas Taungakava and Chris Mundell. The return of James Monaghan after knee surgery, and the addition of NZ Falcon Reed Cathcart will give the forward line additional punch.
The backline has plenty of experience, with the likes of Pete Rodgers, Brad Ingram, Chris Bailey and Sam Barrett. Harison Manks will again be relied upon to repel the opposition with his strong intercept marking and vision on the counter-attack.
This will be a season when University look to bring on new talent under the tutelage of their veteran core.
After missing out on playing finals by one game in the past two seasons, the Howick Hornets are fit and firing ahead of round 1. The entire squad have endured a tough pre season campaign which will set them up nicely to burst out of the blocks in the early rounds of the season.
The Hornets have a new coach in James Dixon and the side is looking to build on last year with a goal of making finals.
Current Auckland AFL and AFL New Zealand Premiership Best & Fairest Jay Green will don the Blue and Yellow again this season and will be as lethal as ever.
Harley Jenkins had a strong AAFL season in 2018 and made his debut in the Premiership this year playing for the Southern Saints. The full forward was their leading goal kicker and will look to further improve this season with more experience under his belt.
New players Armani Wright and Brad Martin will be names to watch out for this season.
The Waitakere Magpies made the Semi Finals last season and with a wealth of experience, good mixture of young players coming through and a few veterans back in the fray, it looks to be a good year for the Pies.
Nico Donnell-Brown is looking to extend his stellar form in the AFL New Zealand Premiership when he runs out for the Magpies on Sunday. Playing off the half back flank, Donnell-Brown will team up with Josh Copeland who continues to evolve into a key defender.
Midfielder Zac King is coming off of a strong rookie season for the Magpies and will be dangerous on attack as he continues to develop his game.
2019 looks like an exciting new year for the Tigers. With new head coach Sean Mayes looking to make his mark on the competition, he has some fresh new blood at the club to help him.
After falling well short of their 2018 goals, it looks as though hard work is top of the list with the Tigers already notching up some gruelling sessions in the lead up to our round 1 clash with the Mt Roskill Saints.
As well as the new coach there are a number of new faces to the club with Aussie imports Ben Schaefer and Taylor Potter sure to pick a few B&F points throughout the season.
But two new fresh faces to the club both seem to be grabbing a lot of attention with their skills and application during preseason. Xavier Bryham will be looking to make his Senior debut after excelling as a development player in the National Premiership earlier this year.
The other new face is Brahm Erdmann. Erdmann was the recipient of the 2019 North Shore Tigers Scholarship after his impressive performance at the Tigers 9’s day a few weeks back. With a Rowing and Basketball background, Erdmann is surely going to make a name for himself in AFL New Zealand circles.
On the other side of the coin… the Tigers welcome back ruckman Steve Howard after 11 seasons, who joins his 2008 Premiership winning teammate Andriu Sucu who will play his 15th season with the club this year, these two will sure bring a wealth of experience to the side.
After a disappointing 2018, the Manurewa Raiders will be looking to bounce back in 2019.
With a core group of players that have years of experience, there have been some new fresh faces at pre-season training who have all shown ability and are itching to play.
Captain Kikorangi Hibbs has been a strong player and leader over the last few seasons and will be steering his squad again in 2019. Tou Dodds is an experienced player who shows good intent and energy in every game he plays. Still a young man but a massive future in the sport with his continued development.
Alex Fakatoumafi will be a key figure up front once again for the Raiders. The Premiership star has many years experience in the sport and is a International Cup Champion when NZ won the world title back in 2005.
A player to watch for this season is August King. The 18 year old had a strong season for the Raiders in 2018 and was selected to play in the AFL New Zealand Premiership. After a strong debut season, more accolades came King’s way with a call up to the NZ U18 side in May. The exposure to a high level of footy should be beneficial for the youngster to take his game to another level in 2019.
One thing about the Raiders is that they are a team that don’t back down from a challenge and will fight in every game.
The Mt Roskill Saints are still suffering from their defeat to the University Blues in last year’s Grand Final but they have had a strong pre season and hopes of going one better this season.
New Zealand representative Will Dickinson is back at full fitness after his recovering from a hip injury and will play a pivotal role in the Saints midfield alongside fellow NZ rep Sam McKenzie.
In defence, Alastair Maisey has become a key leader in the backline and will be taking responsibility of a very solid Saints defensive line.
A player to watch this year is Chris Zoghbi. Zoghbi’s 2018 season was cut short due to a knee injury and now back to 100% health, he is looking forward to a full season ahead.
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Story – AAFL