Alex takes the next step to­wards his AFL dream

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

Alex Awa­tere ex­pects an­other les­son in the art of Aus­tralian Rules foot­ball in Mel­bourne this week.

The Aotea Col­lege 17-year-old has been se­lected for a New Zealand un­der-18 side trav­el­ling to Mel­bourne to play an Aus­tralian ju­nior team.

Awa­tere, a de­fen­sive half­back, said the play would be phys­i­cal and the New Zealan­ders were un­likely to win, but the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and pres­ence of scouts were rea­sons enough to go.

‘‘I’ve just got to do my best and you never know what might hap­pen,’’ he said.

Awa­tere has had a busy few months in AFL, play­ing in an Auck­land com­pe­ti­tion for the Cen­tral Gi­ants in March and April.

Over sum­mer, his Poriru­abased North City Demons side came sec­ond in the Welling­ton league, a good re­sult be­cause it was a young side, he said.

Be­cause he is also train­ing for rugby, work­ing and com­plet­ing his last year of school, his life is very full.

‘‘Be­tween ev­ery­thing here, and play­ing in the tough Auck­land com­pe­ti­tion, it was pretty tax­ing. I didn’t have a lot of spare time for much.’’

Teach­ers at Aotea had been un­der­stand­ing about the trip to Aus­tralia, he said, al­though he would be laden with school­work for the du­ra­tion.

In the next 12 months, Awa­tere has his sights set on mak­ing the New Zealand men’s side and hold­ing down a place un­til the next Aus­tralian Foot­ball In­ter­na­tional Cup, in Aus­tralia in 2017.

He said his com­mit­ment and train­ing to­wards the sport have held him in good stead for the 2016 rugby sea­son, when he will turn out for Aotea’s First XV.

‘‘The fit­ness lev­els for Aussie rules and rugby are very dif­fer­ent.

‘‘Rules has the higher in­ten­sity car­dio and rugby is a lower in­ten­sity, but you still need to be very fit. I love play­ing both sports.’’

Alex Awa­tere in full flight for the Welling­ton un­der-17 side.

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