The first ever NZ Hawks Academy level 1 side hosted a team from the NSW Independent Schools programme on Auckland’s North Shore over the ANZAC weekend.
The NZ tour comes off the back of a successful visit by a New Zealand Junior representative team to Sydney in April 2015 and was a great opportunity for New South Wales Independent Schools to bring a team to NZ providing them with the unusual opportunity for players to play an international opponent overseas.
With many new young faces representing their country for the first time, the NZ Hawks had their youngest representative in Luke Buckley (Albany Junior High School) at 12 years of age.
The group, Coached by Otago Boy’s High School teacher Warwick Kain were selected from the new AFLNZ Youth Competition and Academy format. Kain focussed on developing his young group in this campaign and to enjoy their time out on the footy field.
During the two match series, the Hawks showed tremendous passion in representing their country. Aucklander’s Braedyn Collins (Rosmini College) and Bronson Hewitson (Avondale College) were standouts for the Hawks as they gave it their all. Collins was dominant in the ruck, towering above his opposition to tap the ball down to his team mates. Hewitson only picked up the game in January of this year but his eagerness to learn and develop earned him a spot in the Level 1 side. His effort and hard work in the backline earned him best on ground in game 1 and continued his form in the second game.
Level 1 Captain Dennis Pere-Koro from Keri Keri High School was tremendous for the Hawks. Playing in the midfield Koro had many possessions of the footy and threw his body into everything all weekend.
Mau Kuonga Teali (Porirua College) and Lewis Gill (Onslow College) from Wellington also starred for the Level 1 side with Teali earning best on ground for the Hawks in game 2.
The NSW side were too strong for the Hawks during both games but the Hawks gained a lot of learning and development over the whole campaign and will only be better off when they next pull on the NZ guernsey.
A special thankyou to Rebecca McGowan, Simon Wilson, AFL NSW/ACT and the NSW Independent schools programme for all your efforts in organising the tour.
Also, a big thanks to management, umpires and all the parents and supporters who came to cheer on the boys.
Goals: Behinds: Total: 16 5 101 4 7 31
NZ Hawks Academy Level 1: Bronson Hewitson
NZ Hawks Academy Level 1: Dennis Koro
NSW Independent Schools: Pierce Roseby
NSW Independent Schools: Nick Brewer
Goals: Behinds: Total: 12 3 75 4 3 27
NZ Hawks Academy Level 1: Mau Kuonga Tealei
NZ Hawks Academy Level 1: Braedyn Collins
NSW Independent Schools: Braedyn Campbell
NSW Independent Schools: Jackson Barling