St Kilda confident of having fans in Wellington
St Kilda will be the "home" team for the historic Anzac Day AFL game in Wellington, but Sydney Swans superstar Adam Goodes is assured of support from the Westpac Stadium stands.
A proud Aboriginal, Goodes is one of the sport's true champions, with two premierships and two Brownlow Medals to his name.
The 33-year-old is also a one-club man, having been drafted by the Swans in 1997, and entered club folklore when he captained Sydney to victory in last year's grand final despite rupturing a posterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the first half.
He also has a strong connection with one of Wellington sport's favourite figures.
"I've got a mate that captains the Wellington Phoenix over there, Andrew Durante, and he tells me how nice and windy it's going to be so I look forward to that as well," Goodes told The Dominion Post at a Swans recovery session on Sydney's waterfront on Sunday.
"He lived around the corner from me in Sydney when he was playing in junior soccer. So we sort of grew up knowing each other, had a group of friends here and then he went up to Newcastle to play there. He broke a leg or two and then went over to Wellington which has been fantastic for his career. And he's such a great person as well, I've got a lot of time for him. He'll have a Swans guernsey on, mate, he certainly will."
Goodes also visited Wellington in January last year to film a Powerade ad but a day inside a studio proved an unfulfilling experience.
"It wasn't Peter Jackson but the All Blacks were filming the next day. That's why I had to travel over there and I didn't really get to see much of Wellington.
"So I'm very excited to get over there and take a little bit more of the culture in and the people. It's definitely not a holiday for us, we are going over there as professional athletes and we're going over there to get a win. But at the same time there are going to be opportunities to take in the sights."
Sixteen years in Sydney means Goodes has become a keen observer of both league and union and is a great admirer of New Zealand's national team.
"You grow to enjoy it - not so much the success of the All Blacks - but to have a team, with all the games they've played, and have a winning percentage of 80 per cent plus is ridiculous."
The Swans have opened their premiership defence with comfortable wins over expansion clubs Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast.
They are expected to be tested for the first time in Hobart today, against North Melbourne.
St Kilda, meanwhile, are 0-2 but are fancied to notch a win against Greater Western Sydney in Canberra today.
The Saints have stolen a march on Sydney, with many of the squad and staff having visited Wellington and familiarised themselves with Westpac Stadium.
Not that Goodes was too worried.
"I played junior football in Ballarat in Victoria and it can be very windy there. To go to New Zealand to play a game, on Anzac Day with the great history and camaraderie of our two countries, it will be a great spectacle."
The Dominion Post