NT Thunder has named a strong team for its huge opening game of the 2019 VFLW season.
Three debutants, four Centralians, five AFLW premiership players and two recent Gwynne Medallists will pull on the Thunder jumper when the team takes on Hawthorn at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday.
Lateesha Jeffrey is set to captain the team for the first time in her second season for ThunderW and the entire 2019 leadership group bar one has been named in Angela Foley, Lisa Roberts and Ebony Miller, along with emerging leaders Janet Baird and Tayla Thorn.
Foley was ThunderW’s inaugural club champion in 2018 and won her second AFLW premiership medal for the Adelaide Crows in March in front of 53,000 people and loves pulling on the Territory jumper.
She will lead the midfield alongside Roberts and Katie Streader, who was 2018’s ThunderW Karen Schneider Most Courageous Award winner for her hard attack on the ball and second efforts.
Nineteen-year-old Baird comes off an impressive 2018/19 NTFL season with the Palmerston Magpies where she became the youngest-ever winner of the Gwynne Medal while one of her predecessors, Roberts, won the Williams Medal for best on ground in the NTFL Grand Final playing for Waratah against Jeffrey’s Southern Districts team.
The three debutants who will run out in the ochre, black and white for the first time are Ailish Considine, Samantha Hoogeveen-Hill and Alicia Stanley.
Coach Heidi Thompson said it was exciting to see four Centralians named in the team in Michelle Ellis and Jordynn Hickey along with Ebony Miller and Hoogeveen-Hill.
“Our two other debutants Ailish Considine and Alicia Stanley will experience their first taste of VFLW and they are both recent premiership players in the last AFLW and NTFL seasons respectively, so their experience will be invaluable,” she said.
Considine played her first game of AFL in Darwin for St Mary’s in the 2018/19 NTFL season before being an integral part of the Crows’ AFLW premiership campaign. The Irish import has a Gaelic football background and can kick on both sides of her body.
A tall forward, Hoogeveen-Hill hails from the Pioneers FC and Pinktails in Alice Springs and is a two-time CAFL Women’s leading goalkicker and will be sure to bolster the firepower in the forward line with her clean hands and kicking ability. She kicked five goals in her four games for Southern Districts in the 2018/19 NTFL season and played in the grand final team.
A skilled defender and a renowned hard worker, Stanley completes the list of debutants, coming into the squad after overcoming a serious knee injury to become a premiership player with Waratah in the NTFL. She was part of the 2018 ThunderW squad while completing her recovery, so has had exposure to the program and began her Territory footballing journey in Katherine.
Thompson singled out midfielder Morgan Johnston as a player to watch in Round 1.
“A key standout for me in the pre-season has been Morgan Johnston, who will be used as a utility playing mostly in the midfield.
“Her decision making is elite and her skills are silky smooth. She goes about her business quietly and professionally and I’ve been super impressed with her so far,” she said.
Thompson said the team was raring to go and were planning on playing an exciting, attacking brand of footy first and foremost.
“We think we have the fire power in the engine room to provide plenty of forward entries and the backline is full of effective communicators who will provide loads of defensive pressure.
“We’re expecting Hawthorn to be highly competitive given they’re the reigning VFLW premiers, however, I believe our girls have enough leg speed and fitness to match it with the best and we have had a super pre-season.
“Obviously the inclusion of experienced players in Chelsea Randall and Deni Varnhagen will strengthen our backline as will our NT products, Hickey and Foley who have been standouts in the Darwin and Alice Springs competitions in recent years.
“It will be great to see how our game plan stacks up against one of the best teams in the competition and after a full on pre-season the girls are chomping at the bit just to get out there and finally play,” she said.
VFLW Round 1
Hawthorn vs NT Thunder
11:30am AEST, Sunday 12 May
Box Hill City Oval, Vic
B: Marijana Rajcic, Tayla Thorn, Alicia Stanley
HB: Chelsea Randall, Lateesha Jeffrey (c), Ebony Miller
C: Lisa Roberts, Angela Foley, Katie Streader
HF: Tahlia Holtze, Amy Chittick, Jordann Hickey
F: Sharona Bishop, Michelle Ellis, Ailish Considine
FOLL: Jasmyn Hewett, Janet Baird*, Morgan Johnston
INT: Kristy Irvine, Deni Varnhagen, Machaelia Roberts, Katelyn Rosenzweig, Samantha Hoogeveen-Hill
EMERGENCIES: Billie Byers, Charles Deegan, Madeline Gault
NEW: Ailish Considine, Samantha Hoogeveen-Hill, Alicia Stanley
* Indicates 23rd player