NT Thunder’s NEAFL team will face Aspley on Saturday night with four forced changes after Jess Budarick, Sam Dyke, Dylan McLachlan and Tylah Saunders all sustained injuries in last week’s game.
Coming in for the injured quartet are four equally prolific players in David Johnson, Braedon McLean, Jacob Templeton and Ross Tungatalum.
With NT Thunder and Aspley sharing a healthy rivalry over recent years it’s a must-win game for both sides who are sitting on the bottom of the NEAFL ladder.
It has been confirmed that Budarick, who left the field in the first quarter against Southport, sustained a rib injury and is likely to sit on the sidelines for a couple of weeks pending healing.
Along with McLachlan, who reinjured a troubled calf, the youngster had been finding good touch in recent weeks with NT Thunder Head Coach Darren Reeves describing the pair as big outs.
“Both Jess and Dylan took a week or two to adjust to the pace of playing at NEAFL level but once they did they quickly became two of our most creative players. They just crashed in and got the job done.”
Similarly, Reeves said the loss of the more experienced Dyke and Saunders meant there was a gap to fill.
“Dykey and Tylah are solid players who will give their all but with their unavailability, the opportunity for David Johnston and Braedon McLean has come knocking once more, and we have every faith in these guys filling the roles.”
McLean has been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion almost a fortnight ago in Round 5, while Johnston was unable to travel to the Gold Coast last weekend due to the impending birth of his child but a week later and the baby is still to arrive.
Templeton and Tungatalum who were both instrumental in Thunder’s Round 4 win against Redland return to the side with Rocco missing the last two games due to a dubious right ankle and Templeton missed one game with an elbow injury.
With a couple of players taking some hard knocks at training Reeves and the coaching group have assembled a dynamic panel of emergencies.
Nate Paredes, who has not played a game of footy since his injury in early February, has been busy training in anticipation. So too has Tom Davies, who finished serving his club-imposed sanction in Round 5, and youngster Beau O’Connell who showed great potential in the recent NAB League with the NT Thunder Under 18s.
Reeves said it was the nature of football that meant the idea of a ‘best 22’ wasn’t always possible.
“In the ideal world we’d have every player on our list fit and ready for selection every weekend, but unfortunately we’ve had a few niggly injuries lately that has forced our hand at the selection table and also with late changes on game day.”
Last week Thunder travelled with Kieran Delahunty but the tall forward was a late withdrawal with a sore hamstring and has since been precautioned with another week on the sidelines.
“That’s no excuse, and it’s no different to every other team. Instead, we need to focus on making sure every player is ready to commit and fulfil his role whenever called on,” Reeves said.
Referring to last weekend’s narrow loss to the defending premiers, Southport, he said the team wanted to finish what they missed out on.
“We had our opportunities against Southport to win the game, but the most pleasing aspect was that we set ourselves a benchmark on the style of play and the intent and contest we want to be known for.
“It seems that every game against Aspley is a hard one with lots of feeling, but we’re hopeful that we’ll get the reward for the effort this Saturday,” he said.
NEAFL Round 7
NT Thunder vs Aspley
6:30pm AECT, Saturday 18 May
TIO Stadium, Darwin
B: Ben Rioli, David Johnston, Kieren Parnell
HB: Joe Anderson, Hugo Drogemuller, Daniel Weetra
C: Brodie Carroll, Clinton Gallio, Dean Staunton
HF: Chris Williams, Shannon Rioli (c), Jacob Templeton
F: Adam Tipungwuti, Trent Melville, Ross Tungatalum
FOLL: Jack Hannath, Ben Taylor*, Abraham Ankers (c)
INT: Phillip Wills, Nick Yarran, Jack Monigatti, Dylan Barry, Braedon McLean
EMERGENCIES: Nathaniel Paredes, Tom Davies, Beau O’Connell
IN: David Johnson, Braedon McLean, Jacob Templeton, Ross Tungatalum
OUT: Jess Budarick (ribs), Sam Dyke (shoulder), Dylan McLachlan (calf), Tylah Saunders (shoulder)
* Indicates 23rd player
The game is part of the NT Thunder doubleheader, with the VFLW team playing the Southern Saints at 3:30pm. One ticket two great games!
You can live stream both games on the ThunderVision if you’re unable to make it to the game: https://www.youtube.com/TerritoryThunder