The Senior New Zealand Hawks have taken an important step towards the 2014 International Cup, with the wider training squad for the tournament being selected.
The New Zealand Hawks will be led by Head Coach Justin Davies, who was recently named AFL New Zealand Coach of the Year at the High Performance Awards.
Packed with talented players from around the country, the wider training squad of 35 will be whittled down to a travelling squad of 28 before the August tournament.
Players were selected on the back of strong performances in the recent ANZAC Series, played between the New Zealand Hawks and the South Pacific Nations.
Players from that series who won Best and Fairest Awards have been included in the squad, including Cam Bailey, Andrew Howison, Will Gregson, Tim Morton, Ty Smith, Jared Court and Michael Gregson.
Many of the players have come through the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme, which has provided them with the opportunity to use their athletic talent to excel through AFL.
Squad members have also come through the various regional leagues, playing for club teams in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago.
Another avenue for selection was through the AFL New Zealand National Provincial Championship, held in Canterbury in December 2013. Teams competing in that tournament were selected through their local League competition.
A large contingent of players from the victorious Auckland team has been selected in the New Zealand Hawks wider training squad.
Standout players from that tournament, including Ben Miller and David Rattenbury, have been included in the wider training squad.
One noticeable aspect of the squad is the increasing presence of players who played in the Hawks Cup Secondary School competition earlier in their careers. These players have subsequently progressed to Club and Representative AFL.
Joe Baker-Thomas, Waylon Baker, Kieran Brunel and Kade Riddell played in the Wellington Hawks Cup. Christian Blackie, Ben Miller and Kyle Smith were involved in South Island Hawks Cups. Shane Leat and Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas played in Auckland and Northland Hawks Cups respectively.
The New Zealand Hawks last won the International Cup in 2005, and are expected to progress deep into the 2014 tournament.
New Zealand Hawks International Cup Wider Training Squad
- Cameron Bailey – Canterbury
- Waylon Baker – Wellington
- Joe Baker-Thomas – Wellington
- Liam Beattie – Auckland
- Dan Benny – Otago
- Christian Blackie – Otago
- Michael Boyce – Auckland
- Andy Christensen – Melbourne
- Brendan Clark – Northern Territory
- Justin Clark – Melbourne
- Jared Court – Canterbury
- Nick Fisher – Canterbury
- Michael Gregson – Auckland
- Will Gregson – Auckland
- Aaron Harris – Melbourne
- Andrew Howison – Melbourne
- Levi Inglis – Canterbury
- Jay Johnson – Auckland
- Kieran Brunel – Wellington
- Cam Lubransky – Canterbury
- Shane Leat – Auckland
- Sam McKenzie – Auckland
- Ben Miller – Otago
- Tim Morton – Auckland
- Chris Mundell – Auckland
- David Rattenbury – Auckland
- Kade Riddell – Wellington
- Josh Robles – Canterbury
- James Roughan – Auckland
- Adam Simpson – Auckland
- Kyle Smith – Canterbury
- Ty Smith – Auckland
- Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas – Northland
- Logan Toomer – Otago
- Matt van Wijk – Waikato