2017 AFL New Zealand Premiership Captain Michael Boyce will once again lead the Southern Saints for the 2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership.
The Saints were tipped by many to be the front runners at the start of the 2017 season as they proved they were the best club in the Premiership by winning eight out of nine games with their only loss coming against the Northern Suns in Round 5. Boyce had a strong season for the Saints and was instrumental in a star studded backline which included big names such as Andriu Sucu and Harison Manks.
Boyce has a quality AFL career within New Zealand, Representing New Zealand at the 2014 International Cup as well as campaigns against South Pacific and AFL Academy. Michaels association with New Zealand teams can be traced back to junior age groups more than a decade ago. A Grand Final victory with the Mt Roskill Saints in 2013 alongside an AAFL Best and Fairest medal, add to his list of achievements in the game.
“It is an honour to have led the Southern Saints over the past two AFL New Zealand Premiership seasons and will again be an exciting experience playing in a with players from across New Zealand.”
Boyce and the coaching staff have had some big decisions made ahead of the upcoming season with the inclusion of the revamped retained players list. RPL Category 2 in the Retained Players List states that each Premiership side will be able to retain up to three players that are Auckland based who have represented New Zealand at senior level in the past 12 months.
Currently, the Saints have seven Auckland based NZ Representatives from their 2017 squad, including Boyce, 2017 Premiership player of the year Andriu Sucu and fellow New Zealand team mates Samuel McKenzie, Josh Cunliffe, Carlos Donnell-Brown, Ben Hick and key defender Harison Manks will also be moved into the category following the completion of studies in Wellington and now residing in Auckland. To date Boyce, Carlos Donnell-Brown and Playing Assistant Coach Andriu Sucu have been retained.
“There’s no denying our team will lose some valued experience through the new draft rules this season. However being the defending premiers this will only fuel the fire for the retained players to impose our team culture and game style on the new players coming through.”
The 27 year old has recently returned from representing New Zealand at the 2017 International Cup in Melbourne with the added pressure of the Saints being the reigning Premiers, Boyce is excited for the challenge ahead. “We only have one goal this season and that is to become the first team to be back to back premiers.”