Alex takes the next step towards his AFL dream

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.’’

Source: Kapi-Mana News, 10 May 2016, Kris Dando