NT Thunder returns to Blacktown International Sports Park for the second time this season to take on Sydney University in its Round 10 match on Saturday.
The team welcomes some class and experience back into the side in the form of Phillip Wills, back from a groin injury and Ross Tungatalum, who has recovered from an ankle injury and will line up for his first game in six weeks.
Young gun Joel Stevens, who in Round 8 made his last-minute debut, returns to the line-up with more preparation and lead in time for his second game.
Ben Taylor is also back in the side after missing the Round 9 clash against Redland with a cork.
Thunder loses young talent Malcolm Rosas for this week’s game as he was named in the side to represent the Allies in Round 1 of the 2019 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships on Sunday.
Alice Springs-based player Dylan Barry won’t travel with the team this week either due to a knee concern, leaving co-captain Abraham Ankers with the fresh-faced Nigel Lockyer and Ethan Liddle, who have both been impressive in their first games, to wave the flag for the Red Centre.
Rounding out the changes is David Johnston who is unavailable and Nate Paredes who was suspended by the NEAFL MRP for one match.
Last time the two teams met Sydney University kept NT Thunder scoreless for two quarters, and so NT Thunder Head Coach Darren Reeves said his team did not want a repeat of that.
“We feel like Round 2 was one of our more disappointing performances, we were unable to keep clean possession of the ball, started to get frustrated and consequently gave away undisciplined free kicks and then when we did have the opportunities we were wasteful in front of goal.
“They’re the aspects of our game that we’re keen to remedy and feel we’ve been making some inroads on the past few weeks.
“It’s easy to look at the win/losses and get caught up on that, we certainly don’t ignore them, but we also know the numbers tell us that six of our last eight quarters we’ve either won or drawn. So that means in two games there are two quarters there where we have effectively ‘switched off’ and then been forced to try and play catch up footy. We need to be better than that, so that is what we’re striving for,” Reeves said.
Speaking of his side this week he said it was good to have the playmakers back in.
“Willsy and Rocco are extremely gifted players who provide us with reliable options through the middle and towards goal. They know what their role is and will dig in and perform.
“Joel Stevens and Benny Taylor are reliable youngsters, who along with Nigel and Ethan out of Alice, do the hard work on the training track and play the game with intent, so this is another opportunity for all of them to step up and perform,” he said.
NEAFL Round 10
NT Thunder vs Sydney University
12:00pm AEST, Saturday 8 June
B: Clinton Gallio, Nigel Lockyer, Kieren Parnell
HB: Joe Anderson, Joel Jeffrey, Daniel Weetra
C: Brodie Carroll, Jacob Templeton, Ethan Liddle
HF: Abraham Ankers (c), Dean Staunton, Kieran Delahunty
F: Adam Tipungwuti, Trent Melville, Ross Tungatalum
FOLL: Jack Hannath, Cohen Thiele, Ben Rioli
INT: Joel Stevens*, Phillip Wills, Hugo Drogemuller, Ben Taylor, Shannon Rioli (c)
EMERGENCIES: Jack Monigatti, Beau O’Connell, Richard Tambling
IN: Joel Stevens, Ben Taylor, Ross Tungatalum, Phillip Wills
OUT: Dylan Barry (knee), David Johnston (unavailable), Nathaniel Paredes (suspended), Malcolm Rosas (Allies duties)
*Indicates 23rd player