While some of Australia’s cricketers like Canberra Raiders fan Brad Haddin have been getting their fix of NRL on TV during their New Zealand tour, AFL enthusiasts are missing out.
Australian team officials have been asking questions around the town of Hamilton, hoping to find a sports bar that is showing AFL round-one games this weekend.
The only action they can find is a telecast of Sunday night’s Fremantle-Adelaide game, which is hardly the most exciting match-up of the round at this stage.
Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting (North Melbourne) and fellow batsmen Mike Hussey (West Coast) and Marcus North (Essendon) will have to wait another week to get a better fix of AFL telecasts, with the squad due to depart for home after the second Test, which is scheduled to finish on Wednesday.
It’s a disappointing outcome for the team’s AFL fans, who are stuck in what former Queensland rugby fullback Chris Latham described in 2006 as a place that “would not be the world’s most exciting town”.
South Africa rugby coach Peter de Villiers last year kept his Springbok squad in Surfers Paradise until two days before their Test match against the All Blacks, to avoid Hamilton as much as possible.
De Villiers was concerned his players would suffer from apathy as “there is nothing in Hamilton”.
Australia’s Test cricket squad and their favourite football teams:
Ricky Ponting — North Melbourne, Cronulla, Portsmouth
Simon Katich — Richmond, Sydney Roosters, NSW Waratahs
Shane Watson — Brisbane Lions, Queensland Reds
Mike Hussey — West Coast, Manchester United
Michael Clarke — Wests Tigers
Marcus North — Essendon, Newcastle United
Brad Haddin — Canberra, NSW Waratahs
Mitchell Johnson — North Queensland Cowboys
Nathan Hauritz — any Australian team
Ryan Harris — South Sydney, Central Districts SANFL
Doug Bollinger — Sydney Roosters
Clint McKay — Carlton
Phillip Hughes — Socceroos