NZ captain hopes for AFL team - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ captain hopes for AFL team

Chris Barclay 11/08/2011 03:25:46 PM Comments (0)

Andrew Crighton, New Zealand's captain for the AFL's upcoming International Cup, is hopeful the competition's next expansion move will be across the Tasman Sea.

Crighton, who works as an AFL development officer in Auckland, believes the prospect of the league featuring an expansion side based in New Zealand is realistic.

"I definitely think it's feasible, once they see how good we can be they'll want a team over here for sure," 23-year-old Crighton said.

"I'd like to see a New Zealand team within 10 years.

"The first step is to have Kiwis making Australian teams and we've got a couple of guys on scholarships at Hawthorn."

The Hawks are nurturing teenagers Rhys Panui-Leith, Shem Tatupu - son of former Kiwis and Samoa rugby league representative Tony Tatupu - while reports out of the AFL club are encouraging about the potential of 16-year-old Kurt Heatherly.

Crighton admits it can be difficult to promote the sport in his homeland.

"You're working against people's prejudices more than anything else and 'Aussie Rules' can be a disadvantage," he said.

"Kids can be pretty quick to put up the fence when it's Aussie Rules, so we just call it AFL."

He highlighted NRL winger Matt Duffie as an example of the sport's potential in New Zealand.

"I played with him (Duffie) back in 2007 in the Auckland team. The word on the street is he was looking good for an AFL ticket then the Storm popped up."

Crighton will lead New Zealand at the International Cup, an 18-team international Australian rules football tournament that starts in Sydney on Saturday.

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