AFL credentials to be tested

Talented netballer and University of Otago student Killarney Morey plays around with an AFL ball yesterday before leaving for her home town of Auckland. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Talented netballer and University of Otago student Killarney Morey plays around with an AFL ball yesterday before leaving for her home town of Auckland. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Killarney Morey will have to travel a bit further than expected for her sporting endeavours next month. That's fine by her, though.

Instead of heading down the road to Invercargill, Australia's sparkling Gold Coast will be her destination.

The 18-year-old student had originally been preparing for the under-19 netball championships, her first with Dunedin.

However, after being selected for the Eastern Allies under-18 AFL team - a combined Tasmania and New South Wales team - she made a quick change of plans.

It is not that she prioritises one over the other.

She has played for New Zealand in both sports and was part of this year's Southern Blast netball team - the feeder team to the Steel.

But having played in the Australian national competition with Tasmania - which New Zealand has an association with - this represented a step up in her AFL career.

She would play against three other combined state teams from July 6 to 12 and would be seen by top level scouts.

''I try to balance both,'' she said.

''But this is a one-off opportunity.

''All the AFLW recruiters will be watching this tournament.

''If I'm ever going to get drafted, it'd be a good time to get seen, whereas I'll still be under-19 next year, so I can play that again, hopefully.''

Originally from Auckland, Morey has already carved an impressive junior career in both sports.

She began playing netball at a young age and was in the midcourt of a strong Epsom Girls' Grammar team.

On top of that she captained her Auckland age-grade representative teams.

AFL came into the picture when she started secondary school and a teacher suggested she could play for New Zealand if she trialled.

As the sport did not attract too many players, her athleticism helped her get picked.

She learnt to kick and skills such as marking balls had crossover with netball.

On top of playing for New Zealand, she has played for Tasmania in 2017 and 2019, missing last year due to netball.

It was netball that helped lure her south as well.

Not knowing what she wanted to do upon leaving school, she applied for various universities.

Otago offered a scholarship and an email from coach Lauren Piebenga suggesting she should trial for the Blast both proved key factors in her decision.

Making that team - and playing for it - had been a great experience.

The physicality had been a step up, and being part of a high performance environment had been a valuable experience.

She has now just finished the first semester of first-year health science and returned to Auckland yesterday afternoon.

Next year she plans to return to Dunedin, although that could change if she was drafted to the AFLW.

Working towards being a training partner with the Southern Steel was also a goal.

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