St Kilda AFL stars in Tauranga training camp

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AFL STARS: Jarryn Geary makes a run for it at Bay Oval today. Photo/Andrew Warner
AFL STARS: Jarryn Geary makes a run for it at Bay Oval today. Photo/Andrew Warner

St Kilda's AFL team has travelled to New Zealand to use Tauranga's University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance this weekend.

The football team is the first international team to visit specifically because of what the facility offers.

St Kilda high performance manager Matt Hornsby confirmed the St Kilda sportsmen will be in the Bay, using the high performance centre for their training camp. A total of 46 athletes, and about 25 support staff will be visiting.

"We chose the Adams Centre as it provides our team with an elite training venue in a unique setting as part of our pre-season programme. Our intention is to take our athletes out of their comfort zone, build relationships within our team and enjoy some challenges in a unique environment," Mr Hornsby.

The team will also make use of the international-standard cricket oval right next door for some on-field training.

The centre's manager of strategy and high performance Justine Brennan said the opportunity to host the St Kilda AFL players was exciting.

"We hope that, now we have a world class facility, this will be the start of more exciting things to come with St Kilda and other AFL teams.

"Without fail, every national or international team coming through the facility is impressed with its calibre, plus its proximity to the on-field infrastructure required to support their sport.

"We are grateful to the Bay Oval Trust for enabling the AFL guys to use the oval while they are here. It's the perfect place."

Bay Oval Trust general manager, Kelvin Jones, says it is a real coup to have St Kilda training at the Bay Oval.

"We have certainly never had an AFL group here. We always say we are a multi-use venue but this just ticks another box," Jones said.

Jones is not sure if AFL will ever be played on the Bay Oval but it has that potential.

"It has certainly been mentioned before that AFL could be an option here. At the right time of year and under lights it would be a great thing to see here."

Bay Venues chief executive Gary Dawson said the centre was the key piece of infrastructure which was, up until recently, missing in Tauranga's sporting landscape.

"It is exciting that the centre is achieving what it was designed to do, fulfilling its potential in becoming a leading national and international Centre of Excellence for sport, attracting top sporting teams and individuals," he said.

The St Kilda AFL team is not the first Australian sporting squad to use the facility, but the team is the first to travel specifically to do so. Earlier this year the Australian Women's Cricket Southern Stars team used the centre around their match against NZ. It provided the venue for pre and post-match training warm up and recovery.

Other high profile teams to have used the facility in the nine months since it opened in April include: NZ Rugby-Sevens, NZ Rugby - Junior All Blacks, The Chiefs, Blacksticks Men, Blacksticks Women, White Ferns - NZ Women's Cricket, Surf Lifesaving NZ - surfboat team; Auckland Aces Cricket, Northern Districts Cricket, and Fever Netball.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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