25 Apr 2013

Sport: Pacific players close to AFL debut

11:02 am on 25 April 2013

The first AFL player from the South Pacific is not far away according to some of the sport's top officials.

A South Pacific representative team, featuring players from six countries including Nauru, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, is in Wellington this week to take on the New Zealand national team in two matches.

The first is a curtain-raiser for Thursday's ANZAC Day AFL Premiership match between St Kilda and Sydney at Westpac Stadium.

Some of the best Pacific talents are already at AFL clubs on international scholarships and the AFL's Asia Pacific Development Manager, Andrew Cadzow says it won't be long before one breaks into the first team.

"When they literally attach themselves to the club and go full-time it's amazing how fast they advance of course under the right regime at an AFL club. In all honesty, Kurt Heatherley, Shem Tatupu are two of the main boys who have all come from New Zealand. Gideon Simon from PNG at Richmond. Those sort of boys are 12-18 months away from playing Senior A football so it's a very exciting time and when one or two do I think there will be a lot more because there certainly are some good players here."

The second match between New Zealand and the South Pacific team is on Friday.