The New Zealand Hawks are expected to be a major force at the 2014 International Cup, after the naming of a strong touring squad.
AFL New Zealand CEO Robert Vanstam is pleased with the selection. “This group of players have worked hard to be here, they deserve to be here, and I have no doubt they will do their country proud.”
The International Cup will take place at iconic AFL venues around Melbourne, and will run from the 9th – 23rd of August. The Grand Final will be played at the MCG.
The tournament is the pinnacle of International AFL competition, and is held on a 3 yearly basis.
Head Coach Justin Davies and Assistant Coach Andrew Congalton will be returning for their 2nd successive International Cup campaign, along with manager Tim Stevens. Physiotherapist Jenny Lucy will be taking part in her 5th International Cup campaign, having been involved since 2002.
New Zealand stalwart Andrew Howison will captain the team, and will be supported by a core of senior players who have been part of previous International Cup campaigns.
Three players are set to compete in their third International Cup in 2014. David Rattenbury, Matthew Van Wijk and Aaron Harris were all part of the 2008 and 2011 teams.
Chris Mundell, Andy Christensen, Michael Gregson, Andrew Howison, Justin Clark, Brendan Clark and Jared Court are returning from the 2011 team, and have been key members of New Zealand Hawks teams in the intervening three years.
At the other end of the scale, a talented group of teenagers will be playing in their first International Cup.
Joe Baker-Thomas, currently on an International Scholarship with the St Kilda Saints, is one such player. He is joined by Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas, Ben Miller, Kyle Smith and Levi Inglis.
Geographically, the squad features strong contingents from Canterbury and Auckland, but overall includes players from six regions around New Zealand.
From Auckland, current AAFL champions the Waitakere Magpies are strongly represented. Chris Mundell, the player/coach of the University Club and Auckland NPC team, is also part of the New Zealand squad.
New Zealand has a strong recent history at the International Cup. Playing as the New Zealand Falcons, the team won the competition in 2005, and was 2nd in 2008. Most recently the New Zealand Hawks came 3rd in 2011.
The New Zealand Hawks are one of the three main contenders to take the title, with Papua New Guinea and Ireland also boasting strong squads.
2014 New Zealand Hawks International Cup Squad
1 Joe Baker-Thomas (Wellington)
2 Dan Benny (Otago)
3 Michael Boyce (Auckland)
4 Andy Christensen (Wellington)
5 Brendan Clark (Queensland)
6 Justin Clark (Canterbury)
7 Jared Court (Canterbury)
8 Nick Fisher (Canterbury)
9 Michael Gregson (Auckland)
10 Will Gregson (Auckland)
11 Aaron Harris (Auckland)
12 Andrew Howison (Canterbury)
13 Levi Inglis (Canterbury)
14 Jay Johnson (Canterbury)
15 Cam Lubransky (Canterbury)
16 Shane Leat (Auckland)
17 Sam McKenzie (Wellington)
18 Ben Miller (Otago)
19 Tim Morton (Auckland)
20 Chris Mundell (Auckland)
21 David Rattenbury (Auckland)
22 James Roughan (Auckland)
23 Adam Simpson (Auckland)
24 Kyle Smith (Canterbury)
25 Ty Smith (Auckland)
26 Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas (Northland)
27 Logan Toomer (Otago)
28 Matthew Van Wijk (Waikato)
Waylon Baker (Wellington)
Josh Robles (Canterbury)