The Canterbury AFL (CAFL) is getting set for its biggest season yet as they prepare to kick off the 2019 competition which begins on Saturday August 24 at Hagley Park (Carlton Corner).
Defending Premiers, the University Cougars are looking forward to the 2019 CAFL season as they prepare to defend their 2018 title.
A few new players have joined the Cougar ranks and with the majority of last year’s squad returning, it’s hopeful the team will continue to improve and grow.
Minor changes to the coaching ranks with Adam Clarke taking over the senior role from 2018 premiership winning Coach Chris Mintern taking a step back to an assistant coaches role with Neil De Joux, Nathan Ryan and David Hume rounding out the coaching panel.
Players to watch out for this season will be AFL New Zealand under 18 team member Thomas Turner, who has had a solid 12 months of football behind him. Nick Rhodes has been involved in the AFL New Zealand Premiership and looks forward to another season with the Cougars.
The Christchurch Bulldogs dropped some exciting news on the eve of the season, announcing that former AFLW and Olympian Kim Mickle will take on the role of Head Coach for 2019.
Having relocated to Christchurch in 2017, Mickle took the silver medal at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics reaching a result of 66.60 m (PB) and in 2014, she won the gold medal at the Commonwealth games with a throw of 65.96 meters.
In September 2016, Mickle signed to play for the Fremantle Football Club in the inaugural season of AFL Women’s in 2017.
“I grew up with AFL but unfortunately there weren’t any female leagues and it was apparently to “rough” to play with the boys, so I was forced to pick another sport. Luckily that worked out rather well for me. I’ve been to 2 Olympics and a few Commonwealth Games/World Champs for Javelin and had an absolute ball doing it but unfortunately had a rather bad injury 2016 and had to retire.”
A player to watch this season will be new recruit, Jack Penniket. The young gun has had big wraps from his squad members and is looking forward to a big year.
The Mid Canterbury Eagles could be a dark horse in 2019.
The Eagles look like a different outfit for 2019 and Head coach Adem Manderovic & President Ricky Van Olphen have put in a lot of effort during the off season to bring in a new era at the club.
They have picked up talented footballer Patrick Smith and AFL New Zealand Premiership star’s Dean Smith and Josh Robles-McGill who will all make a sudden impact.
Smith’s sheer running speed and possession count will be a great attribute at the Eagles switching from cross town rival the Christchurch bulldogs. Robles-McGill has recently returned from Australia where he gained experience playing club footy at Blacktown Western Magic in the platinum division of Western Sydney.
With the same coaching staff returning, coach Manderovic looks to reap the reward of working with his young Eagles side for the past two seasons, whilst also to the stars of the future having coached AFL KiwiKick and AFLNZ youth for the past two seasons.
Can the Eastern Blues get back to their best in 2019?
Led by New Zealand Falcon Jay Johnson, the Blues are putting in the hard yards to give themselves a shot at the Premiership title.
Layton Cahill is playing his third season for the Blues where he has established himself as a key ruckman in the CAFL league. Pair this with the likes of Nick Fisher, Jay Johnson, Kenta Ukita, Ben Daly, Jed Williams and Clayton Campbell, Layton and the Blues midfield look the goods.
AFL New Zealand Premiership Rising Star Kenta Ukita will be a player to watch out for this season. After impressing for the Southern Saints in his debut season, Ukita was selected in the NZ under 18 side to tour Melbourne in May this year.