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NZ Falcons to host Maffra in pre-cup hitout

  • Monday, May 02 2005 @ 11:15 pm ACST
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Oceania Victorian Country Football Club of the Year, Maffra, will play a practice match against the New Zealand Falcons in preparation for the Falcons' tilt at the 2005 International Cup.

Maffra Football Club, based in the Gippsland town 20 kms north of Sale, has been enormously successful in recent years, winning three consecutive premierships in the West Gippsland Latrobe Football League. Whilst any club would be happy with such a record, Maffra's achievement is all the more significant because of West Gippsland Latrobe's ranking as Victoria's third strongest country league. To acknowledge this achievement, the VCFL announced Maffra as the 2004 Country Football Club of the Year. Furthermore, The VCFL has now selected the 'Eagles' to represent Australia in a match against New Zealand's national side.

The match will be the first international played by a NZ team on home soil, and will be held on July 9th when Maffra has a bye in the West Gippsland Latrobe league. During their stay in New Zealand, the boys from Gippsland will be hosted by the Auckland AFL.

NZAFL General Manager Rob Malone sees it as a fantastic opportunity for the Falcons' players in the lead up to the International Cup.

"It is a wonderful opportunuty for our players to compete against a very highly ranked team like Maffra. The game will provide (our) coaches and players with the opportunity to put some of the strategies we have been working on into practice.

"The Maffra team will be strong, very committed and match hardened. The NZ Falcons players and coaches are looking forward to the match and lets not delude ourselves, we will not get better match practice than this opportunity prior to competing against the likes of the Irish, Canadians etc."

Secretary of the Maffra Football Club, Allan Evans, is very proud of his club's players, many of whom will be travelling overseas for the first time.

"Some time ago the Victorian Country Football League was given the opportunity to promote the game overseas. Maffra won the VCFL Club of the Year last year so that's maybe why we get to go.

"We're going through preliminary arrangements at the moment, working out costs and accommodation. We've found the majority of (our) players haven't been overseas before, (so) the first part of the process (will be arranging) passports."

Both clubs realise the importance of the match as a test of their skills - not to mention as a source of trans-Tasman bragging rights. Further information on the Falcons preparation is available at the NZAFL website.