NT Thunder has added more Territory talent to its list by signing Under 18 Academy players, Dominic Forbes, Malcolm Rosas and Joel Stevens to the NEAFL senior squad.
Forbes and Rosas both made their senior debut for NT Thunder in 2018, impressing coaches and fans from the get-go. Forbes who is currently based in Alice Springs and plays for Federal Football Club in the CAFL, and Waratah in the NTFL turned 18 only a few weeks ago, while the Darwin Buffaloes’ Rosas won’t turn 18 until the end of June.
Stevens, who is a top age player in the Academy this year, had an outstanding NTFL season with Waratah used mostly as a utility and earned himself the Round 16 Rising Star nomination.
Rosas went on to win the overall NTFL Rising Star Award for 2018/19, while Forbes was the CAFL’s Rising Star winner in 2017.
All three players have come through the different NT talent pathways, with Forbes starting in the national diversity championships before transitioning to Under 16 Academy level and onto Under 18s.
Stevens began his footy journey in the Thunder Juniors program and onto junior NTFL where he got selected for NT Schoolboys before joining the Academy Under 16s and more recently, 18s.
Rosas, who has risen quickly to become one of the NT’s brightest prospects, also started in the diversity championships before being selected for the Australian Boomerangs and coming back into the Under 16 and 18 Academies, topping off his good performances with NAB AFL Academy selection in 2018 and 2019.
NT Thunder Head Coach Darren Reeves said Forbes had impressed him.
“After playing some senior games last season, Dom will continue as a rookie player in 2019.
“Initially his focus will be with the Under 18s before joining the NEAFL squad. While he has some work to do from a physical sense, he has excellent football smarts and game awareness for a young player, and we look forward to having him in our program over the latter part of the year.”
When speaking about Rosas, Reeves said he looked forward to seeing what he could do and how far he could go.
“After an outstanding debut game last season at NEAFL level we are excited to see Mally be part of our group again in 2019.
“He had an outstanding NTFL season with the Buffaloes and his Rising Star win has him primed to turn heads again for Thunder this year. The sky’s the limit when it comes to Mally.”
Reeves said he had big plans for Stevens.
“Joel has been very impressive in some competitive training with the NT Thunder squad over the last few weeks.
“After a breakout season at NTFL level, we feel like he is in a good place to have a strong impact at the next level. He will play his games at Under 18 level, and then we are really keen to expose him at NEAFL level as soon as we can,” Reeves said.
The trio’s campaign with the Under 18 NT Thunder Academy in the newly-formed NAB League starts next Saturday 30 March when the NT plays the Gold Coast Suns in Sydney. The team will then travel to Melbourne for four more games, ahead of Allies/National Championships selection.
Those players who do not get called up to the Allies squad will then become illegible to play as a rookie-listed player with the Thunder senior men’s team, while those that do play Allies will likely join the NEAFL team at the back end of the season.
AFLNT Talent & Pathways Manager, Wally Gallio said he was pleased the Academy players would get more opportunities than ever before.
“We have worked hard over the past few years to create a continuous talent pathway so that we can provide our players with the best chance to reach their fullest potential.
“We are proud of our one club culture, and in giving our players the opportunity to represent the NT at state-league and national level. In 2019 the boys going into their draft year will play more quality games than ever before.”