HAWTHORN has added to its crop of International Scholarship holders by signing promising 15 year old Kiwi youngster, Siope Ngata.
Known for his athletic ability and sideways movement, Ngata caught the eye of Hawks recruiters during testing in New Zealand, where the two attributes shone.
An accomplished athlete, Ngata won the Junior Sportsman of the Year award at his school, Aorere College in 2012 for his achievements as a rugby union player and has played representative rugby for the past three years.
He was also the youngest player selected in Auckland South U16 rugby union squad in 2012 and is eligible to again be selected in 2013.
The Kiwi youngster says he’s excited to begin a new journey in his sporting life.
“I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity Hawthorn have given me,” Ngata.
“I’m looking forward to learning new skills and continuing my development through AFLNZ and Hawthorn programs.”
Ngata committed to the Club on a recent trip to New Zealand where he was met by current scholarship holders Ben Miller and Shem Tatupu.
He says the pair will provide him with leadership throughout his journey as well as his family who have been supportive so far.
“It was great meeting Ben and Shem who are both currently going through the scholarship program to get an idea of what’s to come,” he said.
“My family has been awesome, they’ve really backed my decision to enter the scholarship program and I’m really grateful for their ongoing support. It’s all been really positive.”
His signing strengthens the Club’s commitment to New Zealand, which Recruiting and List Manager Graham Wright sees as an untapped resource in uncovering talent.
“From our point of view it’s that body shape and their athleticism that really lends itself (to AFL)…and they’re generally pretty tough, they like the physical contact.
“It’s amazing how that rugby group of players have great evasive skills and all those sorts of things that come into it.
“From that point of view and from our side of things, it just fits.
“We’ve put that development program in place that can potentially progress them a lot quicker and getting them to a stage that when they’re 18, they have a real chance (of making it).”
Wright also believes the ability of the Club to sign Kiwi youngsters at such a young age is an undoubted advantage.
“Other clubs might go to Ireland and America and look for athletes but we feel it (New Zealand) suits us, we’re able to develop them when they’re younger, teach them the game and they get an idea of the game,” he said.
“They play five, six, seven, eight or nine games a year – not a lot but enough to give them a real understanding of the game and by the time they’re at a draftable age, we have an idea of whether or not they’re a chance (to make it at the level).”
Ngata will now begin participating in AFLNZ programs while in New Zealand and will undertake training with Hawthorn development staff.
The 15 year old hopes to follow in the footsteps of Kurt Heatherley and Tatupu who recently committed to joining the Hawks when eligible for the draft at the end of 2013.
Ngata joins Miller and Tatupu as players currently holding International Scholarships with the Club.