NZ Falcons Progressing Well
WFN spoke with NZAFL CEO and the Falcon’s Coach Rob Vanstam to see how things were progressing towards International Cup 2008
The New Zealanders have had three training camps so far, with 2 of them based in regional centres before everyone gathered in Auckland earlier this month. The squad has been whittled down from the near 60 who were initially named at the National Provincial Championships late in 2007. There are now 34 players aiming for the 29 available spots in the traveling squad to Melbourne.
Coach Vanstam was playing his cards very close to his chest knowing how close this years International Cup is likely to be with significant development in around the world in the intervening period. He confirmed that there are players from across the four provinces Auckland, Canterbury, Waikato and Wellington as well as five who are continuing to develop off-shore in Australia and have made the effort to meet the requirements of being selected.
Current New Zealand 2008 International Cup Squad:
Richard Bradley, James Bowden, Scott McNally, Geoff Thomas, Joseph Hendry, Shane Browne, Jarrod Court, Sam Whitehead, Richard Marsden, Aaron Harris.
Marcus Jones, John Maling, Morgan Jones, Andrew Congalton, Matt Callaghan, David Corey-Toussaint, Paul Gunning, Andrew Crighton, James Monaghan, Andrew Buckthought, Lewis Hurst, Andriu Sucu, Matthew Crighton, David Rattenbury, Liam Ackland, Michael Boyce.
Graham Rattenbury, Cameron Heka, Lenny Reeves.
Moss Doran, Matt Van Wyck, Mitch Mace, Luke Kneebone, Nick Cunneen.
Some of these five have been previously profiled in different WFN stories and one would think they may be among the stand out players for the Falcons come August. According to Rob Vanstam, Matt Callaghan is at South Fremantle in the WAFL now where the Head Coach is former West Coast Eagles star, Glen Jakovich. Callaghan played a key role in the Falcons title as a strong and mobile ruckman. Spring heeled imposing forward Moss Doran is back at Sth Warrnambool in the strong country Victorian Hampden League. Scott McNally is back in Victoria for a second season playing at Old Melburnians in the Amateurs.
Morgan Jones left the Mt Roskill Club in the AAFL to train at the Morningside Club in the Queensland State League. He has subsequently played this season for the University of Queensland in the strong, mainly amateur AFL South Queensland competition. The final overseas player is the venerable NZ legend Paul “Guppy” Gunning who has been a part of NZ sides since they first attended the Arafura Festivals in 1995. He has played the last 2 seasons in southern Western Australia.
The preparation so far has had its ups and downs. $35000 has come in from sponsorship grants, which is great, but high flying teenager Matt Duffie from Auckland’s University Club has been lost to the sport being signed to the NRL’s Melbourne Storm. Like fellow high profile teenagers Nick Evans, who left AFL to become an All Black, and Rhys Casley, who made the same transition to NZ’s national softball side, he has made the choice to have a career that can set him up financially in a sport that currently has more prestige. Whilst the pathway through the international rookie list remains in the development stage NZ will continue to see the loss of these richly talented youngsters to other sports.
NZ will have their final training camp in Auckland in early July where the final squad will be announced before preparing to take on the strong Maffra team from Victoria’s Gippsland region on August 2nd.