Mackie out to make most of opportunity

Otago AFL player Josh Mackie is just a mark and a hand ball away from playing on one of the world’s most hallowed sporting turfs.


But a cruel twist of fate has meant Otago team-mate Christian Blackie will not have the same chance.

Both players were selected to play for New Zealand in the 2017 AFL International Cup tournament, which starts in Melbourne on Saturday.

The team will be forced to leave 20-year-old Blackie behind, however, after he broke his hand less than 24 hours before the team was to fly out for the tournament.

The event serves as a World Cup for 28 international men’s and women’s teams from outside of Australia and is played every three years.

New Zealand will play Nauru, Fiji, Canada and Ireland in pool play in the hope of being in the top two round-robin qualifiers that will contest the tournament’s grand final.

That match will give the finalist the ultimate Australian football experience – playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in a curtain-raiser for the Collingwood Magpies-Geelong Cats AFL clash.

”It would be pretty exciting. It will be a big moment; it will be cool just to run out,” Mackie said.

Mackie is in with a good chance of making that dream come true, with New Zealand rated among the top contenders to win the tournament along with Papua New Guinea and Ireland.

New Zealand has been regular finals prospects in the International Cup, winning the tournament in 2005, finishing second in 2008 and third in 2011 and 2014.


Story – Otago Daily Times