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AFL Fiji surprised

Arin Kumar
Thursday, December 19, 2013

FOURTEEN Fijian players have been named in the extended AFL Oceania U16 side for their Australia tour next year.

Nine have been named in the main 25-member squad while five have been named as emergencies in a separate eight-man list.

The number is one more than Nauru which won the Oceania Cup last week in Suva.

AFL Fiji official Lupe Wolfgramm said it was also a surprise given the fact that Fiji lost to Nauru in the final.

She said nine in the main squad was an increase over last year's tour number to Townsville in Australia in which only eight players from Fiji went.

"From what I heard from AFL Pacific development officer Ben Drew was that our players were more skilful and faster than players from the other competing countries," Wolfgramm said.

"But it is good news for us because we spent a lot of time training these boys and teaching them the skills of the sport.

"With nine in the main squad and five in the emergencies, I think our hard work is starting to pay off because our players, even though this is not traditionally our sport, are very talented and learn very fast."

Wolfgramm said even some players from the emergencies squad might get called up into the main squad.

"In case there are injuries or mishaps, some from Fiji have a very good chance of making the main squad.

"Right now, even the players named in the emergencies squad are turning up for training because they are so interested in playing.

"I think the tour to Coffs Harbour in April will be a good experience for our boys and it will give them much-needed exposure."

Meanwhile, 22-year-old national rep Max Wolfgramm, who played in last year's International Cup, has been picked as one of the managing officers of the Oceania U16 side.