The New Zealand Hawks are set to begin their International Cup campaign against the Swedish Elks on Sunday.
The match will take place on the Western Oval of Royal Park, at 11.30am Eastern Standard Time. It will be live streamed (1.30pm New Zealand time) here: http://www.afl.com.au/global/aflic14/streaming
Sweden are one of the newer teams competing at the 2014 International Cup, with their first visit in 2008. They are widely considered to have improved since their first outing, and are aiming to finish in the top 10 in 2014. Sweden is currently ranked 13th in the world by World Footy News.
Led by co-captains Chris Mårtensson (from the Malmö club) and Hampus Olsson (from Helsingborg) the Swedish Elks will be bringing a relatively youthful squad to the tournament. More than half of the team made their International debuts earlier this year.
Key players for the Elks are expected to be Hampus Ollson, Jacob Nilsson and Buster Sund, who have been described by team manager Jeremy Darke as “young, solid players with a lot of passion for the game.”
For the Hawks, the match will be an excellent chance to push their own young players to the forefront, with younger team members Kyle Smith, Te Kopa Tipene Thomas and Will Gregson all set to take the field.
The New Zealand Hawks are coming off a gritty win over Ormond AFC, a leading Melbourne club, and the experience gained in that match should equip them well for the tournament.
However, a key area of improvement for New Zealand will be in goal kicking accuracy. With a score of 6.16 against Ormond, the forward line will be working hard to make sure they maximise their scoring opportunities against Sweden.
New Zealand Hawks Playing Team: