by Kyle Champion
After being back on the winner’s list, NT Thunder has returned home to Darwin. Thunder will not have to travel for two weeks as the next two rounds will be played at TIO Stadium.
Thunder has managed to hang tough in the past few games, but one player who’s enjoying a fresh start to the season is Morgan Johnston.
Johnston only managed two games for the 2018 season before a season-ending knee injury ruled her out for the year.
“Last year I only played two games because I blew my ACL,” Johnston said. “That year I was down on confidence anyway but this year I’m more confident and I’m just soaking up the whole VFLW experience. It’s a bit overwhelming at times but I manage to take it all on board.”
Aside from AFLW talent in the midfield, Johnston and NTFL favourites in Kristy Irvine, and Katie Streader have become a very cohesive unit of NTFL talent.
“We train hard and we love to run,” she said. “I have a huge respect for them. We play against each other in the NTFL and we get along really well, but it feels good to play with them at VFLW level”.
This week they tackle Richmond who is currently undefeated. New recruits in former AFLW Western Bulldogs stars Katie Brennan and Monique Conti, have been running teams ragged in the previous rounds.
Brennan has been the face alongside Daisy Pearce that has skyrocketed the AFLW competition. Brennan played in both VFLW premiership victories for the Darebin Falcons in 2016 and 2017.
Conti was awarded best on ground in her AFLW premiership year of 2018. This year she was awarded the Bulldogs best and fairest before signing with Richmond.
The duo possess a dangerous combination but Johnston believes they just need to focus on their game.
“We just have to focus on our contested method and our fundamentals,” Johnston said. “We’re up for the challenge and we both play a similar game. We’re both high scoring sides and we love to take the game on and keep the defenders on their toes.”
Another player that has signed with the Tigers but is unlikely to line up this week is NTFL great Abbey Holmes. Holmes has won four premierships with Waratah and was the first woman to kick over 100 goals in a state league. She was drafted to the Adelaide Crows in the 2016 AFLW draft and was a premiership player in Adelaide’s tight victory over the Brisbane Lions in 2017.
“She’s just one of few great players they have on their list,” she said. “But I have confidence in defenders like Tayla Thorn to handle any player they are given task to.”
VFLW Round 6: NT Thunder vs Richmond – 3:30pm AEST Saturday 15 June, TIO Stadium, Darwin