'Brotherhood' key to success
The AFL journey started by pure chance for Michael Gregson.
The opportunity to play for the Waitakere Magpies caught him by surprise six years ago. On a whim he decided to take the bull by the horns.
"I was in my driveway one morning when my neighbour, David Rattenbury, told me the team was short of players," Gregson says.
"I jumped in the car and told him to explain the rules on the way. I fell in love with the game instantly."
Since then the 22-year-old has moved his way up to play for Auckland and the New Zealand Hawks.
At only 1.79 metres tall Gregson says height isn't everything for AFL players.
"There's a position for everyone on the field," he says. "I know that in the big leagues the midfielders are running 20km a game.
"I'd like to think I achieve that much but in reality I have no idea."
The halfback/midfielder's recent accolades include an Auckland AFL title won on Sunday.
Gregson and Rattenbury were celebrating with their Waitakere team-mates well into the night after the 76-65 Auckland grand final victory over the Mt Roskill Saints at Onepoto Domain.
Rattenbury says the Magpies' success this season is a result of a strong "brotherhood".
His first days on the field were similar to Gregson's when his two older brothers twisted his arm to play after they were short on numbers.
"The Magpies are made up of family and friends where everyone seems to have known each other beforehand," Rattenbury says.
"I'd like to think Michael and I are honorary westies through AFL."
Rattenbury and Gregson will be joined by younger brother William Gregson and fellow Magpies Shane Leat, Daniel McGregor and Jamie Gresham selected in the Auckland side
They fly to Christchurch today for the AFL National Provincial Championship played tomorrow and Sunday.