From the land of the rising sun to rising star

The AFL New Zealand Rising Star award will be awarded weekly to a standout young player in the 2019 AFL New Zealand Premiership.


Each week the award will be allocated to those who show ability that favours the core components it takes to become an AFL Player. To be eligible to be nominated for the award, a player must be born in 2001 or younger.

The AFL New Zealand Rising Star award for round 1 of the 2019 AFL New Zealand Premiership has been awarded to Kenta Ukita from the Southern Saints.

Originally from Japan, Canterbury based Kenta Ukita had a dream debut in his first Premiership game for the Southern Saints last Sunday. The young talent provided a heap of defensive pressure and showed no fear getting involved in contests with players twice his size.

The small forward impressed early on as he managed to wrap up 200cm Patrick Landy and NZ midfielder Liam Beattie in the space of two minutes to keep the Sun’s from extending their lead late in the first quarter.

With further development playing in the Premiership, Ukita has great potential to grow into a talented footy player.

AFL New Zealand asked Kenta a couple of questions during the week.

What School do you attend?

Christchurch Boy’s High School.

What sports did you play growing up?

I played Tag Rugby when I was in Primary School.

How did you get into AFL?

I had a couple of friends playing in the Youth Competition last year and thought I would give it a go.

What do you enjoy about playing AFL?

It is something completely different to other sports.

What are your goals for AFL in the future?

I am motivated and determined to make the final New Zealand U18 squad that head to Melbourne in April.

What do you think your biggest advantage is out on the field?

I feel that I am quite fit so that’s an advantage over some of the others.