Wellington based James Kusel will lead the Northern Suns for the third consecutive season for the 2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership season commencing in February at QBE Stadium in Auckland.
The 30 year old has been retained by the Suns under Category 4 of the Retained Players that includes Regionally based New Zealand Representative (Christchurch/ Dunedin/ Wellington).
Currently playing for the Hutt Valley Eagles in Wellington, Kusel took the Suns from fourth position in 2016 to second place in 2017. With key mid players Misilifi Faimalo, Josh Mackie and Tim Stokes all firing, the Suns surprised the competition with their attacking style of play.
Along with the achievements in the Premiership, James also represented New Zealand at the International Cup in August and played a key role in the midfield which saw the national side reach the Grand Final, played on the MCG.
Kusel has a playing career that stretches back over a ten-year period. Debuting for New Zealand in 2006, Kusel faced a baptism of fire at the Australian Country Championships as a young key forward at only 17 years of age. His success in rugby at both the traditional format and sevens within the Wellington region, has combined well with his abilities in AFL and transition skills from the two codes.
“The 2017 Suns squad will have gained an immense amount of experience during the season and with the young talent that have now played two seasons against the best players in the country, they will be looking to make an even bigger impact in 2018”
The Suns recruited well during the last year’s National Draft and added players that strengthened their squad along with unearthing new talent.
“During the National Draft, we were lucky enough to pick Will Dickinson (who ended being our Best and Fairest winner) and with Dave Abetz at the helm again next year, we will look at our retained squad and pick the necessary players to take us to a Premiership in 2018″