Tabitha May is set to make her senior debut when the NT Thunder Women’s (ThunderW) team heads back to Melbourne this weekend to take on the Southern Saints in Round 7 VFL W action.
In all, there are 11 changes to the team that defeated Carlton last week by six goals, and a plethora of local NT talent coming back into the line-up.
Seventeen-year-old May played 15 games for Palmerston in the NTFL Women’s Premier League last season and joins the ThunderW team after being awarded the NT’s Most Valuable Player after her stellar performance in Round 1 of the U18 Women’s National Championships.
VFL W tried and tested defenders Tahlia Holtze, Jemma Iacono, Morgan Johnston and Lisa Roberts all return, while Jasmine Anderson, Lucy Adam and ruckman Jess Allan come back into the middle.
Agile and high-flying forward Jas Hewett also returns from a rest and will line-up alongside fellow exciting ins, Jordann Hickey and Ruth Wallace.
ThunderW Head Coach Tim Weatherald said the resting of 11 players has been made to manage travel loads but also driven in part via an AFL Victoria request.
“AFL Victoria issued us a directive yesterday that we are to limit the number of Adelaide-based players in our side, which we have adhered to this weekend as we work through the details of this change with them.
“With the resting of 2018 Adelaide Crows stars Sophie Armitstead, Georgia Bevan, Courtney Cramey, Jenna McCormick, Chelsea Randall, Sally Riley and Deni Varnhagen we have replaced only three of these players with different AFLW listed players.
“After the debut of Tabs this weekend we will have played 22 local NT girls from a possible 28, and that’s not including our four Darwin-based AFLW players, so the coaching staff believe we are on track in our goal to develop our local talent alongside the best in the business,” Weatherald said.
Sophia Mauboy and Sue Nalder who pulled up sore after the Round 6 win will miss their first games since pulling on the Thunder jumper in Round 4, while Madeline Gault will be rested and Kristy Irvine is unavailable this weekend.
“There’s a great deal of confidence that our girls get from lining up alongside elite players when they’re at training and in a game, but we’ve had five weeks now, and no matter what guidelines are set for us to play to we will always endeavour to put our best team out there.
“The Saints may be a middle-order team, but they’ve shown some great consistency and have sound talent across the board. We look forward to going down there this weekend and giving ourselves another test,” Weatherald said.
VFL W Round 7
Southern Saints vs NT Thunder
Saturday 23 June
Skybus Stadium, Frankston
B: Morgan Johnston, Lauren O’Shea, Tabitha May*
HB: Lisa Roberts, Sarah Allan, Tahlia Holtze
C: Jasmine Anderson, Angela Foley, Katie Streader
HF: Jessica Sedunary, Jordann Hickey, Ruth Wallace
F: Renee Forth, Jasmyn Hewett, Lauren Motlop
FOLL: Jessica Allan, Emma Swanson, Kylie Duggan
INT: Lucy Adam, Jemma Iacono, Amy Chittick, Machaelia Roberts, Samantha Barnett
EMERGENCY: Gemma Cusack, Sophia Mauboy, Nikki Gore
IN: Lucy Adam, Jessica Allan, Jasmine Anderson, Jasmyn Hewett, Jordann Hickey, Tahlia Holtze, Jemma Iacono, Morgan Johnston, Tabitha May, Lisa Roberts, Ruth Wallace
OUT: Sophie Armitstead, Georgia Bevan, Courtney Cramey, Madeline Gault, Kristy Irvine, Sophia Mauboy, Jenna McCormick, Sue Nalder, Chelsea Randall, Sally Riley and Deni Varnhagen
NEW: Tabitha May
* Indicates 23rd player