The Wellington City Saints will be eyeing back to back titles in the Wellington AFL competition as the leagues prepares to kick off the 2019 season on Sunday, September 29.
The Saints have come off a very successful 2018 season where they won the WAFL Premiership for the first time in 12 years.
The squad will be without star player James “Smokey” Corcoran after he moved to the North City Demons for the 2019 season and Deaglan O’Rinn who has returned home to Ireland. They do however welcome the return of Ryan Burge.
Key players this year will come from the senior playing group who bring a great amount of knowledge and experience to the team. Close behind will be the young stars, Doug McJorrow and Will Kempt who tested themselves strongly in the off season in the AFL New Zealand Premiership and with the NZ U18 team. The side see their biggest strength in their team culture as every player in the squad is committed, trains hard and works to a solid game plan.
The Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs have shaken off the horrors of the 2018 Grand Final and have their sights set on regaining the cup after the Saints threw a spanner in the Doggies Premiership works. Sticking with the same coaching and senior leadership group, the Doggies are looking to develop the younger end of their roster, especially with star winger Blake Neve and midfielder Phil Wakefield hanging up the boots for the 2019 season. Despite the outs, the Bulldogs are confident in their experienced squad and are confident that their winning history can shine through again in season 2019.
The Hutt Valley Eagles had a strong finish to their 2018 season and head into the new year full of confidence. With a number of experienced players in the squad, the Eagles fancy themselves as both minor and major premiers in the season to come.
The North City Demons have come through a tough couple of years having lost New Zealand senior players Misilifi Faimalo and Josh Morgan-Ranui, who are now playing football in Melbourne.
New head coach Wayne Hilliam (father of NZ U16 rep Isaac Hilliam) is looking forward to a big challenge ahead and will have a focus on developing his young side in 2019.
Senior players Alex Awatere and Tayne Lockwood will assist on the field, while Donna and Sydney Gill will keep the team organised supporting as Team Managers. Former Saint, James Corcoran has made the move north and will provide knowledge, strength and experience to the developing squad.
Key players this year will be Alex Awatere, Tayne Lockwood, Xavier Forde, Michael Willis and Lewis Gill who bring talent and many years of experience to the squad.
The nine-round Wellington AFL season is set to kick off on September 29, with the Grand final to be contested on December 15.