Asia-Pacific Team of the Century

Damian Balassone has come up with an Asia-Pacific team to be reckoned with. Do you agree with his selections?

B:  James Gwilt (PNG), Mal Michael (PNG), Alipate Carlile (Fiji)
HB:  Dannie Seow (Singapore), Paul Bower (Maori), Karmichael Hunt (Samoa/Cook Islands)
C:  Dustin Martin (Maori), Brian Peake (Maori), Wayne Schwass (Maori)
HF:  Paul Medhurst (Malaysia), Setanta Ó hAilpín (Fiji), Andrew Embley (Burma)
F:  David Rodan (Fiji/Tonga), Aaron Edwards (Samoa), Mathew Stokes (Philippines)
R:  Nic Naitanui (Fiji), Daniel Kerr (India), Peter Bell (Korea)

IC (from): Trent Dennis-Lane (Burma), Wally Koochew (China), George Tansing (China), Enrico Misso (Sri Lanka), Craig Jacotine (Sri Lanka), David Gallagher (Sri Lanka), Jordan McMahon (India), Clancee Pearce (India), Alex Silvagni (India), Sudjai Cook (Thailand), Donald Dickie (Maori), Daniel McAlister (Maori), Danny Dickfos (Maori), Brett Peake (Maori), Israel Folau (Tonga), Lin Jong (Taiwan/East Timor), Frank Lesiputty (Indonesia),  Marley Williams (Maori)


Note:  Asia-Pacific is the part of the world in or near the Western Pacific Ocean. Its definition can vary but for this exercise I am including East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, and excluding Russia and the Americas.  The criteria I have used is i) the player has played at least one VFL/AFL game, and ii) the player was either born in one of the countries that make up the Asia-Pacific region, or has a parent or grandparent, who was born in the region.  (Obviously, the one country I am excluding from the Asia-Pacific region is Australia).

I have stacked the interchange bench to gain as many inclusions as possible.  Brian Peake is the obvious choice for captain.  Lin Jong is the latest addition to the extended bench.  Comments welcome.  Are there any glaring omissions?

About Damian Balassone

Damian Balassone is a failed half-forward flanker who writes poetry. He is the author of 'Strange Game in a Strange Land'.


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    I think you can have Megan Washington (PNG) perform pre-game. And at half-time. And post-match. And she can write and perform the theme song.

  2. Fatui Ataata was very stiff. If he’d played a senior game he’d be a cert!

  3. Very impressive memory Phil. I actually contemplated changing the criteria to try and get Fatui in. I think he played an Escort Cup game in 83-84 and was on the cusp of selection for a while. I know this because growing up my best mate Ben Naitoko (later a star for the Mitcham Footy Club & now a well known Pastor) was Tongan and knew Fatui and thus always talked him up. I always used to look out for Fatui in the Reserves.

    Re Megan Washington, no argument from me Andrew.

  4. Barry Stergo says

    Fascinating exercise. A side with loads of skill and flair, and a few hard nuts as well. Plenty of all-Australians, best & fairests & premierships in there. Also Norm Smith & Sandover medals. Look at that centreline! – I think the Maori contribution to Aussie Rules has been underrated. The only other dude I can think of is Trent Croad for CHB – wasn’t he a Kiwi?

  5. Justin Porth says

    He’s only played a handful of games, but pretty sure Marley Williams from Collingwood has Maori heritage.

    Former WAFL player Les Fong deserves a mention, widely regarded as the greatest Chinese player of all time – could have easily slotted into a VFL team.

  6. I think you left one player out… Not sure if you have heard of a player called Ben Naitoko, but he lives in Goodna (Brisbane, QLD). He plays as a small forward and is amazing. He runs like Gary Ablett, kicks lick buddy franklin, and is an up and coming star in local leagues. He comes from Tongan descent so I am sure he would be a great addition to your team.


  7. Marley Williams is of Maori descent and has the Tatt to prove it. He is going to be a very good player in the next few years. I am pretty sure that he is the youngest player to play in Collingwood firsts for years.

  8. What’s the difference between a Maori Tatt and a Collingwood Tatt Dave?

  9. Thanks Dave, I will have to add Marley Williams to the extended bench. I thought he acquitted himself very well in the 6 games he played this season, particularly on his debut at Football Park in a tight contest.

    Mike, I know Ben Naitoko well, having been his vice-captain and first rover for many years at Donvale Christian College (he was a ruckman too back in those days). I also ran second to him at every Athletics carnival event (I know how Yohan Blake feels). My only criticism of Ben is that he could have handballed to me a bit more.

  10. Peter Care says

    Frank Lesiputty played for Footscray. I think he may have been born in Indonesia.

  11. Frank Lesiputty says

    My grandfather was from indonesia have a heap of rrlatives there

  12. Thanks for your feedback Frank. It’s great to have an Indonesian representative.

    Cookie, if possible could you please add Frank Lesiputty (Indonesia) to the extended squad?

    Frank, what was it like to play under Mick Malthouse in the 80s?

  13. Frank Lesiputty says

    Was really tough and I came from 3 yrs at nth melbourne under Dennis pagan to mick malthouse at footscray needless to say I was fit then

  14. I reckon you’ve got an obvious omission in Trent Croad (NZ) !

  15. Andrew Starkie says

    Great team, Damo. I saw Mal Michael ruck all day as playing coach at Aberfeldie in EDFL GF a few weeks ago. Still looking good and getting a kick. Love Megan Washington.

  16. Troy Thompson says

    Here’s a few more for your consderation.

    Player Club/s Background
    Adam Campbell Fremantle NZ born
    Trent Croad Haw, Freo NZ born
    Simon Black Bris Father NZ
    Scott Harding Bris, Port Mother born Tuvalu
    Ben Rutten Crows NZ mum
    Nathan Van Berlo Crows NZ parents
    Jordan Russell Carl NZ mum
    Greg Broughton Freo NZ dad
    Hayden Crozier Freo Sri Lankan dad
    Jay Van Berlo Freo NZ parents
    Tom Nicholls GC Fiji mum
    Aaron Hall GC Fiji mum
    Max Gawn Melb NZ parents
    Jasper Pittard Port Adelaide NZ mum
    Brent Renouf Haw, Port NZ born, NZ parents
    Heath Grundy Swans NZ mum
    Daniel Pearce WB NZ born and NZ Dad
    Andrew McLeod Crows PNG Grandparent
    Michael Sexton Carlton PNG born
    Sam Mitchell Haw Mother NZ
    Warren Jones Carl NZ born
    Beau Maister St Kilda NZ mum
    Shane Savage Haw NZ born , NZ parents
    Ivan Astruc Fitzroy Born Mauritius
    Marty McDonnell Footscray born NZ
    Thomas O’Halloran Richmond born NZ
    Joe Sellwood Geelong born NZ

  17. Thanks Troy, great job, though I should specify I was thinking of New Zealanders with Maori heritage rather European heritage. Your list certainly shows that NZ is worthy of a team of its own. Didn’t know that McLeod had PNG link. Great stuff.

  18. Troy Thompson says

    Sorry the criteria you specified seemed to be along country, not racial lines. Still I think you can probably add Harding, Crozier, Nicholls, Hall and Savage along those lines. As for the others you may have to break out the DNA test kit.

    Can’t 100% vouch for the McLeod PNG link, has been quoted elsewhere as Torres Straight Islander but it was reported in print a couple of years ago when he was coaching the Flying Boomerangs against South Pacific team that he told a gathering (possibly at Auckland Yacht Club) that he had a PNG grandparent but this could have been some confusion between PNG and TSI. Actually here is the link –…bet…/story-fn6ck6i3-1226224849025

  19. Troy Thompson says

    Also former Collingwood player Wes Fellowes’ mum is Fijian I believe.

  20. Serious? Had no idea. Watched his career closely in the 80s. He won a Copeland in ’86 and was still on the list in ’90 when Pies won the flag. He took a lot of marks a kick behind the play in ’86 and I remember his ruck coach at the time, Crackers Keenan, thought he was a chance for the Brownlow.

  21. In regards to Troy’s list, for some reason I thought Croad actually DID have some Maori heritage, guess I was wrong. Having said that, I don’t see why you couldn’t include NZ players even without Maori heritage… If they’ve been in NZ for a few generations they safely count as being from the Pacific!

    NZ being the exception as it’s the only country in the region (besides Australia) where the majority of the population are of European descent.

  22. Troy Thompson says

    Not sure Azman – his Grandfather Eric Boggs was an All Black though and Maori or not you don’t get more Kiwi than that.

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