AFL: Swans hit capital for NZ debut

By Daniel Richardson

St Kilda Saints meet Goodes' Swans at Westpac Stadium in the capital. Photo / Getty Images
St Kilda Saints meet Goodes' Swans at Westpac Stadium in the capital. Photo / Getty Images

Sydney Swans utility Adam Goodes has probably barely turned a head on Lambton Quay in Wellington this week but he is big news in the AFL.

The 33-year-old is a two-time premiership winner with the Swans, has played more than 300 games of top-flight football and has twice been awarded the Brownlow Medal for the best and fairest player in the AFL.

Goodes has been a member of the defending premiers since he was drafted in 1997. He made his debut in 1999 and has been named their best and fairest player three times in his career.

Tonight will mark the first time an AFL competition match has been played outside Australia when the St Kilda Saints meet Goodes' Swans at Westpac Stadium in the capital.

The 18-a-side code focuses on kicking, catching, running with and marking the ball in a bid to put it through the middle pair of four posts at each end of the field.

Tonight's game is part of the AFL's vision of expanding the game and has received support from the Wellington City Council.

Goodes and his former neighbour from Sydney, Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante, exchanged jerseys this week at a light-hearted press conference where they talked about Wellington's famous wind.

Goodes played lower-level football in Ballarat in Victoria and said wet or windy conditions wouldn't bother him in the Anzac Day encounter.

"We are professionals - we've played in all types of windy conditions. I originally played most of my football in Ballarat. It's wet, cold and windy there ... And it would be good to look to Andrew to tell us what to do from each pocket when we are kicking for goal here when the wind's up and a bit of that local knowledge might help us."

Durante's advice was: "[It's] very unpredictable. It might be a low-scoring game because it's pretty tough to judge the wind. Hopefully it'll be not too bad."

"It's a game that we've grown up playing all our lives and we just see it as a great opportunity to get over here and share it with you guys," said Goodes.

More than 20,000 tickets had been sold for the game.

- APNZ

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