NT Thunder will be boosted by the return of workhorse Jack Shannahan, hardened utility Michael Coombes and big man Tony Olango when it faces the Gold Coast Suns in Darwin on Saturday night.
Shannahan, who was concussed during Thunder’s Round 5 loss to the Sydney Swans has now passed the applicable tests, while Coombes has also recovered from a hamstring injury sustained in Thunder’s Round 4 win over Redland.
Olango, who has been on Under 18 State Academy duties the past couple of weeks, will play his second game for the seniors this year.
Making way for the three inclusions is Katherine youngster, Kayle Kossack who will be rested, Michael Hagan who is suffering from back soreness and midfielder Davin Ferreira who was unavailable this weekend.
Head Coach Andrew Hodges said the team had spent a lot of time on the track this past week working on contested ball situations and going hard at each other.
“We know the past couple of weeks are games we should’ve won, and so we are aware that we’ve not performed to our highest potential.
“This week we spent a lot of time doing the drills that involved a lot of body work and hard ball gets. Add to that the inclusion of Mikey Coombes, who adds grunt to our midfield and Shannahan, who his teammates can trust to put his body on the line, and then we are giving ourselves every opportunity to win,” Hodges said.
On the Suns, the coach said the challenge would yet again be about taking on the professionalism of an AFL outfit.
“They’re a young, exciting side with great depth and have been playing well. We think this weekend presents a real opportunity for our young guys, like Olango, Nick Yarran, and Abe Ankers, just to name a few, to play against elite athletes,” Hodges said.
NEAFL Round 7
NT Thunder vs Gold Coast SUNS
6.30pm Saturday 13 May
TIO Stadium, Darwin
B: Jonathan Peris, Tom Davies, Ben Rioli
HB: Daniel Weetra, Neil Vea Vea, Sam Smith
C: Jack Shannahan, Abraham Ankers, Braedon McLean
HF: Shannon Rioli, Lachlan Collihole, Nick Yarran
F: Adam Sambono, Darren Ewing, Damian Williams
FOLL: Tony Olango, Cameron Ilett, Jarred Erlandson
INT: Sam Talbot, Richard Tambling, Kyle Emery*, Michael Coombes, Ryan Smith
EMERGENCIES: Scott McLeod, Josh Cheek
IN: Michael Coombes, Tony Olango, Jack Shannahan
OUT: Davin Ferreira (unavailable), Michael Hagan (injury – back soreness), Kayle Kossack (omitted – rested)
* Indicates 23rd player
You can live stream this game thanks to Tatts on ThunderVision.