The New Zealand Hawks have acquitted themselves well against highly skilled and strong opposition on their NSW campaign.
While the results did not fall the way of the Hawks, there was enough promise shown by the players to excite the New Zealand coaching staff.
The tour commenced with the naming of the Leadership group for the New Zealand Hawks:
Captain: Utu Ah Kuoi – Wellington
Vice-Captain: Carlos Donnell-Brown – Auckland
Connor McGeough – Wellington
Sebastian Serrano – Auckland
Jo Wadman – Northland
In the first game of the tournament, the Hawks came up against the NSW Independent Schools All Stars, their first time as a representative team.
The match was played on the fields of St Ignatius School in Riverview, Sydney. The NZ Hawks moved the ball well and with a bit more luck going way of the Hawks, the result could have been a different story. The Hawks were great ambassadors for both AFL and New Zealand.
The hospitality afforded by AFL NSW ACT and the Independent schools to our travelling team was outstanding, working towards an ongoing engagement between the associations and annual event between the two teams.
NSW All Stars 5.13: 49 defeated Academy NZ Hawks 2.5: 17
NZ Hawks Best players: Sam Green, Seb Serrano, Jackson Rolleston, Carlos Donnell- Brown, James Watkins, Utu Ah Kuoi
Goal Scorers: (1) Sam Green, Zeon McNabb
During the rest day the Hawks were able to take in the sights of Sydney including a recovery session at Manly beach and a light training session in the evening. The Swans Academy scheduled for the next day was certain to be a step up.
With dominance in the ruck via Naitoa Ah Kuoi and receiving first use of the ball, the New Zealand Hawks were presented with opportunities to attack. Against older players and superior skill sets displayed by the Sydney Swans Academy side, the New Zealand Hawks fell into the trap of trying to beat the first player and on numerous occasions. The contest provided a great lesson for the academy members centering on quick ball and cohesive team work.
The game provided another learning experience for the ongoing development of a fantastic group of athletes, breaking new ground with this historic tour.
Sydney Swans Academy 27.15: 177 defeating Academy NZ Hawks 1.1: 7
NZ Hawks Best Players: Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Barclay Miller, Jack Morris, Connor McGeough, Misilifi Faimalo, Utu Ah Kuoi, Carlos Donnell Brown.
Goal Scorer: Misilifi Faimalo
Player of the campaign went to the rock in defence and Vice-Captain Carlos Donnell-Brown.
The next campaign for the Academy New Zealand Hawks will see the team take on the U16 Southern Saints, a Victorian team, in a two match series at Hutt Park, Wellington over the ANZAC period 24th April and 26th April.
They will also witness the Senior New Zealand Hawks game against the AFL Academy on the 24th of April followed by the St Kilda vs Carlton Game on ANZAC Day 25th April at Wellington Stadium.
Nine new players will be blooded into the team as part of the Academy’s succession programme.