Saints set to take AFL to NZ
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St Kilda coach Scott Watters has thrown his support behind his club’s bold plan to play an Anzac Day AFL match in New Zealand as soon as next year.
The Saints have confirmed they are closing in on a deal to take a home-and-away match to Wellington.
If the plan became reality, it would be the first AFL match played overseas for competition points.
The match would be played at Westpac Stadium – the 36,000-capacity home of A-League soccer club Wellington Phoenix and Super Rugby’s Hurricanes.
The venue has also been successfully used for Rugby World Cup matches and rugby league Tests.
Watters said Saints players were excited about the prospect of taking AFL overseas, and officials at the club viewed the New Zealand experiment as important for the Saints’ future.
“It certainly looks really positive at the moment – there are negotiations taking place and everything’s moving towards a really positive outcome,” Watters said on Friday.
“It would be another strong pillar on which this club can build from. There’s a lot of work being put into taking this club to another level and New Zealand is a key cornerstone of that.
“What it can actually deliver this club on a number of levels could actually relaunch this club into becoming the powerful club it needs to be.”
Watters said he was not fazed with the extra travel which would be involved in an already tightly-packed home-and-away schedule.
“I played most of my footy at West Coast where I travelled every second week, and we delivered some fantastic results on the back of that,” Watters said of his part in the successful Eagles teams of the early 1990s.
“I’m not intimidated or scared of travelling. International teams in international competitions don’t see travelling as a negative.”
The AFL would have to approve the deal, and the venue for the match, before it could go ahead.
But Westpac Stadium has already succesfully hosted AFL exhibition matches – the last a pre-season clash between Brisbane and Adelaide in 2001.© AAP 2013
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