COACH Paul Roos has praised the courage of New Zealander Maia Westrupp for having a crack at an AFL career.
Westrupp, who is heading back home after joining the Demons as an international scholarship player in February 2013, recently played two VFL matches for Casey, after spending most of the season in the AFL Victoria Development League.
But Roos said Westrupp, a former New Zealand junior volleyballer and tennis representative, and regional rugby player, was “a great story”.
“I went through it with [former Swans star] Tadhg Kennelly and Tadhg had come from a fair bit further away [in Ireland],” he said.
“I said this to the player group, after Maia gave his farewell speech, I don’t think you get a full appreciation of what some of these guys give up – until you’re able to visit from where they’re from.
“It’d be great one day for some of our players to go and see where Maia’s from and what he gave up and what he sacrificed for a couple of years.”
Roos said it was a massive challenge for overseas players to convert to a career in the AFL.
“It hit home when I went back and watched Tadhg Kennelly play in the All-Ireland final. I went back to his town of Listowel and I was walking with Georgey Stone, [my wife] Tami and [George’s wife] Penny. You just shake your head and say ‘gee, this is an amazing commitment’,” he said.
“Maia’s the same. I think the fact that a young bloke can just give up family and come across the ocean and play a game that he’s never ever played before [is a credit to him].
“If he takes that determination and that courage into life, he’s going to be very successful. He’s a high quality young fella and we wish him all the best.”