HE MIGHT not have played an AFL match – and in fact he only played two VFL senior matches – but Maia Westrupp made a genuine impact among the Melbourne players, according to senior Demon Jeremy Howe.
Howe said the international scholarship player – who decided to head back to New Zealand towards the end of the 2014 season after joining Melbourne in February 2013 – had been a fine character to have around the club.
And for Howe, Westrupp was an inspiring figure.
“Westy came over and he was one of those guys that you just hit it off with straight away,” he told Dee TV.
“He’s a great character and a great personality and he’s one that boosted the morale around the club. That’s what a lot of the guys respected him for.
“He was only around for the two years, but the impact that he’s had on a lot of players has been massive, especially myself.
“I was fortunate enough that he moved into my house for a month and a bit, so we got to know each other on a personal level, not just at training.
“The courage that he showed to move away from his family to try something that was pretty foreign to him – I respect that a lot.”
Howe said he was determined to remain in contact with Westrupp and even visit him in his New Zealand hometown Whakatane. He added Westrupp might even return the favour and travel to see him in his native state of Tasmania and “come down to Dodges Ferry sometime”.
“He’s one that I’ll always keep in contact with and he’s going to have a crack at rugby now and good luck to him,” he said.
“He was only here for a short period of time, but he left such an impact that I’ll be catching up with him.”
Howe said the fact Westrupp came from New Zealand, having never played Australian Rules, and made an impact among the players, was a credit to him.
“He’s probably the greatest example we’ve had at the moment [of a young player coming in] and having a good influence on players and spreading that,” he said.