The New Zealand Hawks are preparing to face the AFL Academy in Wellington, boasting a strong squad that has every chance of success in the tour fixture.
The match between the New Zealand Hawks and the AFL Academy will be held at Wellington Stadium in Wellington, on the 24th of April 2015 as part of the 4 days of AFL over the ANZAC period. Entry into the stadium will be free with local schools and AFL NZ Academy attending.
The New Zealand Hawks last played the AFL Academy in January 2014, in a match going to the AFL Academy in the dying minutes of the game to snatch the lead back from the NZ Hawks.
The squad will blend youth and experience, and feature New Zealanders based both around the country and in Australia. Contingents of players are currently training in Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
Many of the named New Zealand Hawks have represented their country before, including in the 2014 fixture against the AIS AFL Academy and International Cup 2014. There are seven new inclusions to the team from the 2014 International Cup team. Stan Chung of the Eastern Bulldogs, Wellington and the last six earning their first senior caps Utu Ah Kuoi of Wellington College, Masiu Vainikolo, head boy of Western Heights High School in Rotorua, Barclay Miller of Middleton Grange School Canterbury, Liam Beattie of University Blues FC Auckland, Jarred Percival of Bulldogs AFC Canterbury and Waylon Baker of North City Demons Wellington.
The presence of AFL International Scholarship players Siope Ngata, Joe Baker-Thomas and Barclay Miller will make for an intriguing contest with their AFL Academy peers. Baker-Thomas, Miller and Ngata of the St Kilda Football Club and the Hawthorn Football Club respectively, are seen as potential future professional AFL players. Their performance against the AIS AFL Academy will be a key measure of their progress.
Such a squad would not have been possible without the hard work of all involved in the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme. Most of the players in the squad have come through this pathway, in many cases having represented New Zealand at age group level.
The match between the New Zealand Hawks and the AFL Academy will whet the appetite of AFL supporters in Wellington, with Academy U16 New Zealand Hawks, the Academy National League playing at Hutt Park later in the day and Wellington set to host the ANZAC Day match St Kilda vs Carlton on April 25th.
The game kicks off at 9.30am and gates will open at 9.00am.
New Zealand Hawks 2015
Head Coach: Andrew Congalton – Canterbury
Assistant Coach: Rob Malone – Auckland
Assistant Coach: Mark McKenzie – Hawthorn FC
Assistant Coach: Peta Searle – St Kilda FC
Runner: Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas – Northland
Manager: Ken Ah Kuoi – Wellington
Physio: Skye Renes – Northland