Katherine-based Jess Budarick is the latest young gun to sign with NT Thunder for the 2019 NEAFL season.
A former NT Academy player, he first played for the Katherine Camels in the Big Rivers Football League before representing the Big River Hawks in the Under 18 NTFL division.
At 18-years-old Budarick made the switch to senior footy, following in the footsteps of other Katherine products when he lined up for a game with Nightcliff during the 2017/18 NTFL season.
This current season has seen him build on that, showing great composure in the first three games to be named in the Tigers’ best on a couple of occasions.
He was awarded the Round 2 Rising Star by The NT News and has overcome injury to return for the Division 1 team last weekend.
NT Thunder Head Coach Darren Reeves said he was looking forward to helping Budarick make the transition to state-league footy.
“Jess had a super impressive start to the year with Nightcliff before a shoulder complaint and then an unfortunate fracture in his hand kept him sidelined.
“He has shown enough to suggest he is capable of stepping up to the next level and we are confident being involved in our environment will fast track that,” Reeves said.
NT Thunder Manager Andrew Hodges was excited to have the Katherine region represented.
“It’s positive to have someone from another area of the Territory at NT Thunder this year.
“We look forward to seeing Jess represent his Camels and Big River Hawks proudly this season,” he said.
Budarick was thrilled about signing with Thunder.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to represent NT Thunder, as this has always been a goal of mine,” he said.
NT Thunder is currently in pre-season training, with players coming into the MLLLC one to two times a week for light skills, strength and conditioning and NTFL recovery sessions. The NEAFL season commences for NT Thunder on Saturday 6 April when the Brisbane Lions come to Darwin.