Local interest continues to mount in NZ

Aussie rules glory in sights

By SCOTT MORGAN - Central Leader | Wednesday, 30 July 2008
JASON OXENHAM/Central Leader

PACKING A PUNCH: Lewis Hurst practices his handball pass in preparation for the Australian Rules International Cup next month.

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International glory is within Lewis Hurst's grasp.

The Grey Lynn resident is set to help the New Zealand Falcons defend the Australian Rules International Cup next month.

The tournament, which is held in Melbourne and Warrnambool, pits the best Aussie rules nations outside Australia against each other.

Hurst says it will be an "amazing" experience to play at the home of the sport, which hosted the 2005 final as the curtainraiser to an AFL match with 30,000 spectators looking on.

"That’s one of the main reasons to go – you get to play in Melbourne."

And with regular training camps in the lead-up to the cup, he says the side’s game plan is starting to come together.

The 27-year-old is a rover, which can see him running up to 10km in a game while trying to feed the ball to his side’s goal kickers.

But the Mt Roskill Saints captain has to rely on his teammates to let him know that the opposition are about to pounce.

"A lot of the out of the blue injuries happen when you don’t see them coming. That’s where communication comes in."

NZAFL chief executive Rob Vanstam, who doubles as the national coach, says Hurst’s skill and attitude are important to the side’s success.

"He’s pretty hard, has huge shoulders and a high vertical leap."

As for their opponents, Vanstam is unsure how other overseas teams have been preparing.

But in the past Papua New Guinea, Ireland and the United States have all been strong contenders.

Vanstam says: "It’ll be good to get over there for two weeks and think about nothing but football."

For more information about sponsoring the Falcons or playing Australian rules email football@nzafl.co.nz or visit www.nzafl.co.nz.




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