Sunday, October 05, 2008

Labasa boys get ready for Aussie Rules!

from w
I was very suprised to read that Hawthorn (the recent winners who demolished Geelong in the Grand Final) are recruiting in Fiji for new players. They are even going to Labasa because the rugby and soccer lads up there are promising, butI don't know if 'aerial pingpong' is their style! Good luck though if they are picked.
from a Fiji paper on Saturday.
IT'S COMING4-Oct-2008 10:48 AM

IT’s a game that Australians love more than their rugby. Aussie Rules football is to make its first foray into Fiji as Australian Football League club, the Western Bulldogs plans to sign four Fijians. The Herald Sun yesterday reported that as many 5000 hopefuls from Fiji are expected to attend Bulldogs trials in Labasa and Suva later this month. Bulldogs recruiting manager Scott Clayton last night confirmed to the Herald Sun that at least one player will be signed.

But the Dogs are willing to commit to as many as four under AFL international rookie rules. fter several months of planning, the Bulldogs hope the trials will uncover the next Nicholas Naitanui. And they are leaving nothing to chance, distributing 3000posters throughout Coca-Cola outlets in Fiji.

The posters urge anybody tall, fast and agile with a desire to play elite-level sport to attend. Ruckman Will Minson, who will travel to Fiji for the trials, appears on the posters with Josh Hill.

The Labasa trial will be held on October 17, with the Dogs moving to Suva the next day.

Naitanui, a top-three draft prospect of Fijian origin, sparked Clayton’s interest in what was uncharted recruiting territory. Clayton, seduced by the athletic talents of Naitanui at first sight, has travelled to Fiji several times this year perusing talent.

The Dogs’ “Project Fiji” has been bankrolled by influential supporter and businessman Shaun Bassett.

Clayton said the Fiji push was not a gimmick. “Everyone is looking at internationals. There are eight clubs in Ireland,” Clayton said.
“We aren’t involved there, but we are on the ground now in Fiji.”

The Dogs will take advantage of a rule introduced in March that allows clubs to secure internationals for an up-front $1000 payment. It is likely the players signed will remain in Fiji next year, where they will be closely monitored. There is a strong chance any signed player who shows significant progress will then be relocated to Melbourne and added to the Dogs’ list as an international rookie.

Clubs can sign up to eight internationals a season for as little as $1000, in a move designed to promote international expansion. Previously, they could sign six players and had to pay them $10,000 each if they remained in their home country.

The Herald Sun revealed the Dogs’ Fiji experiment in April, but it has gathered significant momentum since, with trials and now a commitment to sign at least one player. The Dogs are eyeing taller mobile athletes a quality in abundance in Fiji. The promotional material states: “Our primary focus will be on athletes with a strong vertical leap and exceptional ball handling skills who are tall, fast and agile . . . if you have these attributes, come along and try out, you might just be the next AFL superstar”.

Clayton has already built a strong network throughout Fiji, including members of Naitanui’s extended family. He is intent of plucking players from the South Pacific before leaving to take up a new role with Gold Coast after the national draft. Backer Bassett, who runs a cleaning business, said early indications from Fiji were that 5000 could try out.

He said the $1000 sign-on fee was not the main carrot, with Fijian athletes eyeing a five to 10-year career earning significantly more.

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