Defending champs name squad

New Zealand held their final training camp over the weekend of July 4th-7th under adverse weather conditions, which is nothing new in the Land of the Long White Cloud! A strong defence of their title is expected and they have named an even squad with players from across their four football regions.

Speaking with 2005 Cup winning coach and now NZ Media Liaison Officer Jim Lucy, he said “Personally I feel it is a good squad, very fit, with a good game plan and an even spread of experience and youth. Our average age (is) 24 which is the same as last campaign but probably has a few less ‘oldies’ and a lot more experienced players. Having 5 guys based in Australia honing their skills is a real bonus”.

The team is:

Coach: Rob Vanstam
Assistant Coach: Justin Davies
Captain: Andrew Congalton
Vice-Captains: Marcus Jones, Geoff Thomas

29 players:- Club, Name and Age [with Australian club where applicable]

Auckland

Manurewa - Paul Gunning (40) [Warnbro Swans (WA)]
Mt Roskill - Liam Ackland (16), Matt Callaghan (23) [Sth Fremantle (WA)], Morgan Jones (27) [University of Queensland], Marcus Jones (25), Lewis Hurst (27)
North Shore - Nic Cunneen (22), Andriu Sucu (18), Andrew Crighton (20), Matthew Crighton (17) Takapuna - Andrew Congalton (27)
University - Andrew Buckthought (27), James Monoghan (21), David Cory-Toussaint (21)
Waitakere - David Rattenbury (21), John Maling (24)

Christchurch

Eastern - James Bowden (28), Richard Marsden (25), Scott McNally (26) [Old Melburnians], Richard Bradley (26), Geoff Thomas (36), Shane Browne (26)
Mid-Canterbury - Sam Whitehead (23)
University - Aaron Harris (21)

Waikato

Tuis - Moss Doran (21) [Sth Warnnambool]. Mitch Mace (21)
Mavericks - Matt Van Wijk (23), Luke Kneebone (24)

Wellington

Eastern Suburbs - Graham Rattenbury (26)

The two non-travelling emergencies are Michael Boyce (18), the son of NZ legendary footballer Peter Boyce, and Jared Court (20)

The squad has representatives from the 4 provinces. Auckland with 16, Canterbury 8, Waikato 4, and Wellington 1, of whom 5 are currently with Australian Clubs improving their footy. The squad has 4 members who have represented NZ at the 2002 and 2005 International Cups. They are Richard Bradley, James Bowden, Paul Gunning and Geoff Thomas and a further six who were part of the 2005 success in Scott McNally, John Maling, Marcus Jones, David Cory-Toussaint, Matt Callaghan and Andrew Congalton. Five further players have played either in the Australian Country Football Championships or against the Maffra Footy Club in their annual game against the Falcons. This points towards this relatively youthful squad, with the exception of Paul "Guppy" Gunning and Geoff Thomas, being very experienced nonetheless.

Interestingly 10 players have come through the NZAFL school programmes system and with the average age being 24 this shows the commitment from the NZAFL to junior development. Lucy continued “Players to watch will be the upcoming young boys, Liam Ackland (16), Matt Crighton (17) and Andrew Sucu (18). They have trialled well and have skill, but now need the experience to help them along. Bowden, Bradley and Congalton were all chosen in the 2005 International Cup and Geoff Thomas and Paul Gunning, being experienced campaigners from 2 Cups, show this team is all about the present as well as the future.” To interested NZ football followers this is reflective of NZ’s approach over previous campaigns where youth was always promoted when available and interested.

With NZ to play the touring Maffra Eagles on August the 2nd it will prove a great test for the Falcons. Lucy added “Maffra will be a great yard stick for us to work on our combinations and develop our team morale still further”.




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