Category: State Leagues

Get to know: SANFL U18s – West Adelaide

WEST ADELAIDE is set to boast one of the more exciting Under 18 one-two combinations in 2020, with State Academy members Riley Thilthorpe and Bailey Chamberlain looking to crack through the SANFL grades alongside fellow hub representative, Jye Sinderberry – should football return this year, of course.

Draft Central was lucky enough to gain access to South Australia’s pre-season testing day hosted by Rookie Me, speaking to Thilthorpe, Chamberlain, and Under-16 jet, Tyson Coe at the event. Get to know all about the trio; from their favourite teammates, to their on-field strengths and improvements, and 2020 goals.

A versatile and athletic tall with incredible running power, Thilthorpe’s raw talent has seen him thrown into the potential number one pick conversation. While he may have endured an injury interrupted bottom-age year, his form at the 2018 Under 16 carnival and ability to crack West Adelaide’s League side prove his worth. Getting on the park consistently was one of the bigman’s goals coming into his top-age season, building on promising showings thus far.

Chamberlain, a lightning fast midfielder who balances his inside and outside game well, was a player looking forward to benefitting from Thilthorpe’s ruck craft this season across multiple teams. While the 177cm prospect was not a part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad with Thilthorpe, he has developed well since and starred in the State’s Under 17 Futures game, as well as in last year’s Under 17 All Star showcase.

One to watch for the future will be Coe, who comes into his top-age Under 16 year having already featured for South Australia at the level last year. A powerful inside midfielder who loves the tough stuff, Coe had already turned out dominant performances for the Bloods in the Under 16 season before the unfortunate postponement. Should the Under 16 national championships go ahead this year, he will again be one to watch.


CHAMBERLAIN, THILTHORPE AND COE ON…

TESTING DAY/PRE-SEASON:

Chamberlain – “It’s (been) pretty chill so far, just trying to work through some PBs (personal bests) and getting around my teammates, getting through. “I’m definitely trying to improve on my 20m (sprint) and my agility just to make them elite. I reckon that’s a key aspect of my game so if I can get them elite, I’ll become a better player.”

Thilthorpe – Did not test.

Coe – “I did alright, I warmed up pretty well but unfortunately couldn’t do the yo-yo test because of a previous calf injury but besides that I got through the rest of the day pretty well. “The pre-season’s been good, I’ve been hitting the track pretty hard, trying to get a leadership role out there at the Under 16s but unfortunately had a few weeks out with a calf injury.”

2020 GOALS:

Chamberlain – “Just trying to push for a League game really. I’ve just been working as hard as I can to try and push into that selection so hopefully I can play some good footy in the Reserves and then get the call-up… definitely (playing State Under 18s) is my major goal this year, just to play the champs, play every game and play well.”

Thilthorpe – “I just want to continue with more of the same I guess. More League footy, that’d be the dream and a good state champs this year – hopefully take it out.”

Coe – “Just trying to keep up with the bigger boys, learning from them. They’ve been through it themselves so just looking up to them (and) trying to be a leader for my own age has definitely been one of my specific goals this year.”

STRENGTHS:

Chamberlain – “My ability to play both inside and outside. I reckon I’m a pretty versatile player in the midfield, I can play that winger role or play an inside role.”

Thilthorpe – “My marking and athleticism, they’ve sort of gotten me where I am now.”

Coe – “My personal strengths would be the shorter, more powerful stuff like the vertical and the 20m sprint. On the field, just the explosive stuff – more just the powerful tackles and stuff like that, I don’t mind that.”

IMPROVEMENTS:

Chamberlain – “I’m a pretty quick player so when I can get out the pack, just setting myself and hitting my kicks a bit more. I’m a bit inconsistent when I’m at full pace so I’ve just got to slow it down a little bit and take my time.”

Thilthorpe – “Over the pre-season my speed and agility have been big ones of mine so I’ve been working hard on that… my body wasn’t right last year obviously I missed a lot of games so getting my body right and just playing a consistent year is probably the main one.”

Coe – “Overall probably playing through the midfield, just the fitness. Although, unfortunately getting injured in the pre-season didn’t help out too much. But just working that fitness up to try and be an elite midfielder through the State program this year, we’ll see how it goes.”

BEST CLUB AND STATE TEAMMATES:

Chamberlain – “Definitely Riley (Thilthorpe). We’re best mates so it’s pretty good running out next to him. Taj Schofield obviously, I go to school with him so I’m pretty close with him – those are the two main ones.”

Thilthorpe – “A lot of the boys are so good. Like Luke Edwards, just his IQ is unbelievable playing with him is amazing. Bailey Chamberlain, his speed… he’s one of my good mates, he’ll have a good year I reckon.”

Coe – “Getting the experience as an under-ager in the State 16s (under) a few good leaders in Jason Horne, Matty Roberts, and Murls (Cooper Murley). Playing through the midfield with those guys, it was a pretty elite standard and we obviously didn’t get the end result we wanted on the Gold Coast but still the experience is what counted for me.”

Q&A: Jorja Guyatt (Aspley/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the preseason a few weeks earlier where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Jorja Guyatt at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

TM: How did you get into footy?

JG: I got into footy in high school. these Auskick coaches came to my school and watched me train and they were like ‘yeah you should come down and play’ so I was like ‘why not?’. So I did and I just loved it, so I kept playing.

What is it you love about footy?

“Probably just meeting new people. “The amount of new people that you meet, we have the same interests so we get along so well.”

Is there a particular area that you think you’re really strong at when it comes to footy?

“I think the running aspect, I just like running.”

Did you do athletics when you were younger?

“Yeah I did triathlons actually. “So the endurance, got used to it easy.”

How have you found that transition from triathlons to footy now?

“It’s pretty good. “Because I didn’t realise how much running you do in AFL so I got there and … because on TV the oval looks so much smaller and you get there and you’re like oh my God it’s actually massive. “I found that pretty easy, so that was good.”

Is there a particular spot you like on the field more than others?

“I love the wing the most.”

Is there a particular area you’re hoping to improve on this year?

“Just my defense. “My tackling and stuff because I’m not the best at it.”

How’s the preseason going for you?

“Yeah preseason’s good. “I’ve got shin splints. “I just got back from shin splints so I haven’t been able to run for a while, but hopefully get back into it.”

How’s that recovery process been?

“It’s annoying watching people train and I can’t. “Because I can’t do anything, but being on the bike so getting back into it is pretty good.”

What are you hoping to get out of this year?

“Maybe getting to the draft, but not sure yet. “Dream big.”

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: Palmerston Magpies

THE final team under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is Palmerston, who only managed to claim one victory in 2019/20 as wooden spooners, but boast a handful of high-level individuals among a developing squad. In a season where they suffered 10 losses by over 50 points, the Magpies showed a good amount of promise by getting within a goal of finalists, Tiwi and Darwin with over 80 players tried throughout their top flight campaign. Relive the highs and lows of Palmerston’s year, as we also highlight the key performers for the Magpies this time out.

PALMERSTON 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 8th, 1-17, 50%

Most games: Aaron Lonergan, Sandy Brock (16)

Most goals: Keidan Holt-Tubbs (11)

Regaining a good level of consistency after suffering long-term injury setbacks, Holt-Tubbs continues to be one of Palmerston’s most valuable players. Plying his trade as a key forward for the most part, the Magpies’ bigman also showed marked confidence in his troublesome knee by returning to ruck duties in stints this season – which was especially important in easing the load on Jack Berry with Matthew Dennis missing large chunks of the year. He booted multiple goals thrice in a team which struggled for them, and looks primed for some more good years ahead if he can keep on the park.

MVP: Kyle Emery

Arguably Palmerston’s best and most important player over the last two seasons since switching from Nightcliff, Emery enjoyed a much more midfield-oriented role this year after finishing as the Magpies’ leading goalkicker in 2018/19. But Emery was still able to showcase his nous inside 50, finding the big sticks in six of his 12 games for the campaign, while also being named as one of his side’s best two players in five outings. He was particularly influential after the mid-season break despite his side’s losing form, and played his usual role in the Magpies’ sole win for the season with a goal.

Young gun: Sandy Brock

Brock came on leaps and bounds throughout his second season of NTFL Premier League football, locking down a key role for Palmerston down back. While he can be utilised at either end of the ground, Brock showed his best form in locking down some of the competition’s best key forwards at just 17 years of age, leaning on all of his natural athleticism and teachings from the NT Thunder Academy. The Thunder Under 18 representative is just as competitive in the air as he is on the ground, and did not looked deterred against more mature bodies despite being slightly raw when compared to a more traditional key defender size.

Surprise packet: Jack Berry

Already boasting one of the standout fly-in rucks in Matthew Dennis, few expected Palmerston to be able to unearth another as the bigman only managed four games this season, but the Magpies did exactly that through Jack Berry in 2019/20. Berry has VFL experience across two clubs, and proved all of his class as Palmerston’s premier tall when his side needed it most. He was named among the Magpies’ best players in nine of his 12 appearances, mixing well with his new teammates in his first crack at NTFL footy.

Best win: Round 14 – def. Wanderers 14.9 (93) to 13.7 (85)

Goals: K. Holt-Tubbs 3, L. Williams 3, C. Timms 2, W. Shadforth, K. Emery, A. Davey, J. Patrick, R. Stone, J. Berry.
Best: 
K. Holt-Tubbs, K. Emery, C. Timms, W. Shadforth, J. Berry, L. Williams

The first and only win of Palmerston’s season was a good one, spearheaded by some usual suspects. Keidan Holt-Tubbs notched three majors in a best afield performance, with Kyle Emery and Jack Berry not far behind. With one of the best sides they had put on paper throughout the season, Alwyn Davey’s Magpies were able to outlast their youthful opponents for a memorable win.

Worst loss: Round 7 – def. by Waratah 3.5 (23) to 17.10 (112)

Goals: J. Brauman, K. Emery, B. Church.
Best: 
J. Brauman, J. Berry, R. Mungatopi, S. Brock, M. Chester, A. Diamond

It may not have been the Magpies’ heaviest loss of the season, but an 89-point thrashing at the hands of a team that did not make finals does not bode well – and neither does the three-goal effort. There was still something to take out of the game though as Werribee VFL teammates Jack Berry and Jack Brauman made for an influential one-two punch, but the Magpies ultimately could not match Waratah’s speed in attack.

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: Wanderers

THE next team under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is Wanderers, which boasts a squad packed with young talent, but could only muster up enough points for seventh place.

After a promising first six rounds saw the Muk Muks collect all of their 14 Premier League premiership points, the largely inexperienced team struggled to put together its best football for long enough to stay in games, and embarked on a 12-game losing run to end the year. Rubbing salt to the wound, Wanderers was also the only side this season to lose to wooden spooner, Palmerston.

But with a massive 65 players flowing through the top flight lineup and the shining light of Beau O’Connell claiming the Nichols Medal at just 18 years of age, there is plenty for Eagles fans to look forward to should its young core continue to thrive at the club. Relive the highs and lows of Wanderers’ 2019/20 season, and revel in some of the standout individual performers.


WANDERERS 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 7th, 3-14-1, 71%

Most games: Brenton Motlop, Matthew Motlop (18)

Most goals: Joel Jeffrey (29)

Arguably the youngster garnering the most attention draft wise out of the entire NT talent pool is Joel Jeffrey, a high marking utility who staked his claim as a key forward this season for Wanderers. Possessing clean hands overhead and crafty skills at ground level, Jeffrey plays somewhat above his 189cm height in that forward role. While he would often be seen presenting an option further afield, the 18-year-old was the Muk Muks’ most productive asset closer to goal as well, booting 29 goals in 13 games. He was held goalless just once in those outings, and managed a season-high tally of five goals twice. With a ton of upside, hopefully Jeffrey can continue to progress.

MVP: Braedon McLean

Now considered one of the experienced heads in Wanderers’ engine room at just 25 years of age, Braedon McLean once again proved to be his side’s most important engine room cog across 17 Premier League games this season. McLean’s energy and driving work from midfield made him one of the more eye-catching players in the league this year, able to turn games in Wanderers’ favour with bursts of brilliance. His clearance work at just 178cm is terrific and clean, while his decision making brought poise to an inexperienced team most weeks. As he continues to become one of the competition’s premier midfielders, he will remain Wanderers’ most valuable player.

Best Nichols Medal poller: Beau O’Connell (20, winner)

Winning a senior league best and fairest at just 18 years old is no mean feat, and that is exactly what Beau O’Connell pulled off in a remarkable season of Premier League football. The diminutive midfielder stands out with his pace and class in possession, able to break the lines and wreak damage going forward with piercing kicks. O’Connell’s ability to find the big sticks also helped him to garner votes as he was clearly unharmed in that sense by Wanderers’ wealth of losses, consistently standing up as the Muk Muks’ best performer. He is a youngster who is confident in his ability and while he may seem quiet, is a real driver of standards in any group he joins. Having already represented the NT Thunder at Under 18 and senior level, the future is bright for O’Connell.

Young gun: Dray Thompson

There is an almost endless amount of correct answers for this slot among Wanderers’ squad – see Jeffrey, O’Connell, Tyrrell Lui, and co., but we’re going with Dray Thompson as the Muk Muks’ rising star. Another 18-year-old talent, Thompson is also a talented soccer player credit to his speed, and used just that in his role on the wing this year. Able to light up the field going both ways, the youngster earned a Round 16 Rising Star nomination this season, and was a key member of the Eagles’ team in 15 appearances with his defensive work impressive coaching staff at Wanderers. While others like Jeffrey and Lui may attract greater plaudits at times, Thompson has just as many runs on the board after a terrific season at senior level.

Best win: Round 4 – def. Tiwi Bombers 10.12 (72) to 8.10 (58)

Goals: S. Bates 2, M. Cooper 2, J. Jeffrey 2, M. Motlop, D. Thompson, J. Tipiloura, D. Weetra
Best: 
N/A

Wanderers was right among the top five early in the NTFL season, with this win over eventual finalist, Tiwi arguably the Eagles’ best out of their total three. Joel Jeffrey was among three Eagles to boot two goals, playing alongside brother Jai, while Braedon McLean shouldered the midfield load with Beau O’Connell absent. Running out the game strongly after trailing was also a good sign of character for the team, but is something it lacked in the back half of the year.

Worst loss: Round 13 – def. by Palmerston 13.7 (85) to 14.9 (93)

Goals: J. Jeffrey 4, B. O’Connell 3, S. Bates, W. Williams, E. Colley, A. Motlop, J. Jeffrey, T. Motlop
Best:
B. O’Connell, J. Jeffrey, A. Motlop, M. Motlop, D. Dos Santos

While this may not be the heaviest loss Wanderers suffered among its string of 12 to end the year, it stands as arguably the most disappointing given the opposition. The defeat saw the Eagles finish the season as the only team to have lost to Palmerston, although there were still some great positives to take out of the game, not the result. Joel Jeffrey again starred with four majors, while Beau O’Connell was best afield with his three majors. Making up the spine of the future, those two young guns had plenty to do on the day.

Milne keeps focus simple in top-age year

AS part of our special Queensland series, we take a focus on Yeronga South Brisbane player, Kayla Milne. The top-age talent is a member of the Brisbane Lions Academy and tested at the Queensland preseason testing day last month. Speaking with Draft Central’s Taylah Melki, the 17-year-old spoke about her journey and her dreams for the future.

“My little sister, she started playing four years ago,” Milne said of her football beginnings. “I liked the look of it, so I decided to start playing.”

When asked about what it was that kept her in the sport, Milne’s answer was clear.

“Just making new friends and hanging around people, well new people,” she said. “I just love it.”

Milne makes the drive from north of Brisbane down to Yeronga where she represents the Yeronga South Brisbane Devils in the Queensland Australian Football League Women’s (QAFLW) competition. In 2019, Milne played two games for the Development side, named in the best on both occasions, and then stood up in three games for the senior side. Unfortunately a promising start to the 2020 season was ultimately cut short when Milne made just one appearance before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the AFL to suspend all football competitions across the nation.

Milne had initially set herself straightforward goals of getting fit and making the Queensland state team. She did not have a particular area of strength or improvement, but just hoped to keep building her game throughout the year, and making the state team would mean she had achieved plenty in 2020. For her, making the state team would mean “a lot”.

“I’d love it, it would be so good,” Milne said. “That’s just what I’m aiming for.”

Her dedication to her craft is obvious with her commute to train and play for the club she loves. Having to manage training throughout the week, Milne admits it can be difficult at times.

“I play for Yeronga, which is in the city,” she said. “So I travel probably about 50 minutes to get to there, and then from Coorparoo it takes me like 45. “So I train four days a week and I train in the city most of the time. “Yeah it is pretty hard especially with school and work, so I don’t really have much time to myself. “But yeah, it’s worth it.”

Much like every other aspiring elite level footballer, Milne might not be able to get out on the park at this stage, but no doubt once the leagues get the green light, she will be back out there striving to achieve her goals.

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: Waratah

THE next team under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is Waratah, the best of the rest having finished sixth in a turbulent 2019/20 campaign.

In a season where the Warriors struggled to maintain any real consistency despite flashes of their best footy, an incredible 56 players were tried in their top flight team, with much of the best Tahs’ talent missing games throughout the year. There were high hopes for Waratah coming into the year after a promising 2018/19 showing, but finals aspirations were not to be with the gap to the top five ending at a sizeable 20 points (five wins).

Relive the highs and lows of the Warriors’ season, with a special mention for the standouts and key individual performers among a squad stacked with promising home-grown talent, and one particularly renowned NT star.


WARATAH 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 6th, 5-13, 74%

Most games: Aisea Raikiwasa, Daniel Simpson (17)

Most goals: Kim Kantilla (22)

In a season where consistency was hard to come by for Tahs, Kantilla proved a reliable outlet for his side moving forward of centre. While that consistency is not a trait often attributed to players of Kantilla’s dashing and X-factor-filled style, the small forward managed to set the Premier League alight with his highlight reel. His 22 goals across 16 games were important, with a mid-season run of three, six, and five-goal hauls arguably the shining light of an awesome individual year. Linking up with the likes of Henry Kerinaiua and Jae McGrath in the midfield-forward rotation, Kantilla made Waratah a fun team to watch at times.

MVP & best Nichols Medal poller: Abe Ankers (14)

One of the competition’s premier midfielders is Abe Ankers, who was nothing short of his impactful self during an interrupted seven-game season. The NT Thunder representative further proved his class in averaging over two goals and Nichols Medal votes per game, so it was no wonder to see how sorely missed his presence was for this Waratah side this year. Proving as much, Ankers featured in four of Tahs’ five wins and booted 10 goals across those games, while also adding a bag of five in the Warriors’ early-season loss to Wanderers. He is easily Waratah’s most valuable player, and it is no surprise to see him poll so well each year.

Young gun: Brendon Minkulk

The 18-year-old really came into his own this year in his first real tilt at a full season of senior football, accumulating 11 appearances in 2019/20. Coming off a year where he represented the NT Thunder at Under-18 level, Minkulk transitioned well into the Warriors’ Premier League side with a role on the half-forward line to create and apply pressure. While he only found the goals twice this year in seperate outings, the youngster impressed with his ability to shut down opposition rebounds and help keep the ball locked into Waratah’s forward half. Should turn into a mainstay with time.

Best win: Round 6 – def. Tiwi Bombers 21.15 (141) to 15.8 (98)

Goals: S. Stroobants 6, H. Kerinaiua 5, K. Kantilla 3, A. Ankers 3, J. Beugelaar 2, B. Carroll, B. Minkulk

In a high-scoring contest, the Warriors were at their absolute best against a side which proved more than capable of booting similarly big scores. This was not quite Waratah’s biggest total of the season, but it was a huge effort, albeit against an undermanned Tiwi, with a number of big names firing. Ex-VFL sharpshooter Steve Stroobants was the star with six goals, while regular suspects Henry Kerinaiua, Kim Kantilla, and Abe Ankers also all claimed multiple goals. This was the best of Waratah, and what fans would have expected more of coming into the season.

Worst loss: Round 9 – def. by St Mary’s 25.14 (164) to 6.5 (41)

Goals: H. Kerinaiua 2, A. Hodgson, T. Schmid, K. Kantilla, W. Gorman

There is no shame in falling to St Mary’s given its outstanding year, but this was a feeble showing from the outgunned Warriors, falling to their biggest defeat of the season just a fortnight after two massive consecutive wins – including the above. No surprise to see Henry Kerinaiua and Kim Kantilla again on the scoresheet, but the absence of Abe Ankers, Brodie Carroll, Nicholas Gooch, and Tim Mosquito proved telling. That was the story of much of Waratah’s campaign, headlined by this loss.

AFL Draft Diary: Zane Trew

ZANE Trew is one of most exciting talents in this years draft crop for Western Australia. The extremely talented Swan Districts midfielder has had his share of obstacles to overcome in the past 12 months and the current COVID-19 health crisis sweeping the globe is just another thing to deal with. With the WAFL season currently postponed, Zane talks us through his journey to this point and plans for the next few months.

It’s been an up and down last two years for myself. Early last season after playing only a handful of games I hurt my shoulder in an exhibition game in Melbourne. I was given the option to either keep playing with the injury and probably not be able to play to the best of my ability, or have an operation.

After a lot of discussion with the biggest influencers in my football environment and immediate family, I was certain that going through with the op was the best possible decision for the long term goal of my football career.

I did miss a lot of footy (including the National championships and Colts final series) and a lot of opportunities I believe I could have taken and made an impact in. But that’s irrelevant now and I see this as a learning curve in my journey and something that’ll only make me better in the future. I know now If something like that happens again I know exactly what to expect and how to handle myself as professionally as possible. It was a solid rehab period and it took me into the start of my first senior preseason feeling fresh, extremely pumped and itching to play footy again.

The pre-season was solid and its a credit to the club for running such an elite program down at Swans and getting us boys in such good shape for the 2020 season ahead I think it’ll put us in a great spot. It was also really great to learn off some top-notch players that I have looked up to for so long at the club which have helped with my development dramatically. With the pre-season nearing its end, I was really feeling confident and so pumped to kick things off again, but along comes another curve ball.Obviously the situation with COVID-19 has left myself along with everyone else without doing what we all love, which is playing footy.

Personally I was really flat knowing that footy wouldn’t be starting right away, but I guess you have to put things into perspective. I see this as an opportunity to get in a bit more gym and running and mentally to physically freshen up after such a big preseason which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was playing. For me its all about getting that balance right and just sticking to what I know and not taking this time just to completely switch off from footy.

It is a very big year for me and I’m going to make sure when that first game comes, I’m more than ready to go.

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: Darwin Buffaloes

THE next team under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is Darwin, who qualified for a fifth-straight finals berth in a season made up of ebbs and flows. The Buffaloes won every game expected of them as a top five unit, not once dropping points to the bottom three teams, but struggled to get going against those above them – going 2-8 against the remaining finalists. With a squad which boasts some hardened veterans and notable experience, the Double Blues are perennial Premier League contenders, but could not quite put the right form together for long enough, bowing out in the first week of finals.


DARWIN BUFFALOES 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 5th, 10-8 (0-1 finals), 118%

Most games: Christopher Williams (19)

Most goals: Daniel Stafford (39)

A rare key forward type who came back in a big way, the mercurial Stafford was a true spearhead in 2019/20 for Darwin. Booting 39 goals in just 13 games, the mobile bigman almost doubled the next-best Buff in that regard, and was as reliable as they come in front of goal. Able to beat opponents in the air or at ground level, Stafford embarked on an incredible stretch of games where he found the big sticks in each, while also being held goalless just once across the season. His ability to boot big bags of goals made him an invaluable part of the Darwin lineup, taking games away from opponents.

MVP: Jarrod Stokes

The skipper is a leader in every sense of the word; through example in his hardness at the ball and unrelenting effort, as well as his undeniable skill. Stokes endured a slightly interrupted season – particularly in the back half – but still managed to lead his side out in 15 games and put in some big shifts. The midfielder/forward is still as evasive as ever and has the nous inside 50 to find the goals, doing so 12 times across the season. With plenty of support in the leadership and organisational stakes, Stokes continues to be able to let his own game shine and provide the heartbeat to Darwin’s efforts.

Best Nichols Medal poller: Timothy Eldridge (9)

Eldridge’s return to football was a timely one for Darwin, and the utility showed incredible courage to put in such a great season having come off a serious spinal injury which ruled him out for much of 2018/19. Settling into the side early in more of a forward role, Eldridge hit the scoreboard in his first four outings, before continuing to display his typical run and raw forward creativity to play out 17 games in total. The talented Buff is maturing into a reliable player, and clearly proved his status as a key part of Darwin’s setup in 2019/20.

Young gun: Isaac Seden-Kurnoth

A member of the NT Thunder’s Under-16 squad during last year’s national carnival, Seden-Kurnoth took to his first full year of senior football with aplomb, impressing across 17 games for the Buffs. The talented midfielder was named best afield four times for Darwin, such is his quality, with much of his best form coming in the middle of the year. Coming into his bottom-age draft year, Seden-Kurnoth may well have his sights set on Under 18 selection for the Thunder, with another year of senior representation ahead of him either way having earned his way into Darwin’s starting line-up.

Best win: Round 1 – def. Tiwi Bombers 24.13 (157) to 6.8 (44)

Goals: A. Sambono 12, C. Williams 3, J. Anderson 2, B. Culhane 2, J. Clarke, T. Eldridge, J. Stokes, J. Anderson, D. Miles.
Best: B. Stokes, K. Williams, A. Sambono, J. Anderson, C. Williams, P. Boles

Quite the way to begin any season, Darwin’s 113-point thrashing of Tiwi was ominous. An incredible 12 goals to livewire Adam Sambono set tongues wagging for the Buffs, but he would only feature twice more for the year. Skipper Bradley Stokes started off on the right foot with a best afield performance, with the experience of Joe Anderson and Christopher Williams also contributing massively to the big win.

Worst loss: Elimination Final – def. by Southern Districts 5.12 (42) to 17.11 (113)

Goals: D. Stafford 2, D. Wunungmurra, D. Shillabear, B. Foster.
Best: N/A

While Darwin’s season might have began in a blaze of glory, it finished with barely any form of resistance. It may have simply been a case of running into Southern Districts at the wrong time, but the Buffs hardly got going on a disappointing day to fall comfortable losers to the Crocs. Daniel Stafford was still able to find multiple goals though, in one of few highlights for the game.

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: Tiwi Bombers

THE next team under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is Tiwi Bombers, who produced many a highlight throughout this year’s campaign. Renowned for their electric end-to-end style and pace on the outside, the Bombers were one of the more free-scoring sides of 2019/20 and caught plenty of eyes on the way to a third-consecutive finals berth.

In a boost for the club, favourite son Cyril Rioli Jnr made his long-awaited return to the Islands, suiting up and playing a key role in his side’s memorable Round 5 win over Palmerston, while gun midfielder Adam Tipungwuti is currently trying his hand at cracking the AFL at North Melbourne’s VFL side. Despite exiting finals in straight sets having scraped in for a double-chance, moments like these made Tiwi’s season a special one.


TIWI BOMBERS 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 4th, 11-7 (0-2 finals), 102%

Most games: Jason Puruntatameri, Matthew Kantilla, Patrick Heenan (18)

Most goals: Austin Wonaeamirri (35)

A Tiwi stalwart and mainstay in their dynamic forward line, Wonaeamirri was consistently the centrepiece of his side’s attacking efforts. The former Melbourne goalsneak is a reliable set shot and clever at ground level, making him a dependable option around goal. Wonaeamirri was held goalless just twice across 17 games this season, booting multiple goals on 12 occasions and embarking on a remarkable stretch of 11 games where he found the big sticks at least once. In his third-straight season of 30-plus goals, Wonaeamirri only confirmed his status as one of the premier goalkickers.

MVP: Jason Puruntatameri (best & fairest winner)

One of the key exponents of Tiwi’s run-and-gun style, Puruntatameri consolidated his standing as Tiwi’s finest player this year with a campaign good enough to earn a second-consecutive best and fairest nod. Much of Tiwi’s rebound and dash out of its own half was generated by the play-making defender, who was incredibly consistent in his equal team-high 18 appearances this season. Testament to his importance to the team, Puruntatameri was named among the best 14 times in 2019/20, including a streak of 10 games to begin the season which featured three best afield performances.

Best Nichols Medal poller: Ashton Hams (12)

The former West Coast Eagles small did incredibly well to poll 12 votes in just six NTFL Premier League games in 2019/20, playing a key role in five regular season wins before standing tall in a disappointing semi final loss. The diminutive midfielder/forward transitioned well as he moved closer to goal later in the year, booting all of his eight goals in his last three outings for Tiwi – including a bag of four against Darwin in Round 15. Leaning on all of his AFL and WAFL experience, Hams was an integral part of the Bombers’ lineup when available, and gave it his all when picked.

Young gun: Jeffrey Simon

An NT Thunder Under 16 representative in 2018 and Under 18 squad member last year, Simon made his mark on the Premier League this season, adding 17 senior games to the 19 he amassed previously. A multiple-time Rising Star nominee, the talent of Simon is known to all in the NT, and he continues to build on an impressive resume. Able to be utilised on any line and in multiple roles, Simon looks at home on the outside where he can use his clean skills and penetrating run to create forward opportunities for his side. Coming into his draft year, he may be one to watch.

Best win: Round 3 – def. St Mary’s 20.7 (127) to 17.11 (113)

Goals: R. Tungatalum 4, A. Wonaeamirri 4, R. Farmer 2, H. Puruntatameri 2, D. Munkara 2, J. Simon 2, G. Cunningham 2, J. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan
Best: J. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti, H. Puruntatameri, C. Molyneux, D. Munkara, C. Luff

This game was an absolute shootout, producing fireworks between two traditional rivals – in the right way – with an incredible display of attacking football. After two sizeable losses to open their season, not much was expected of the Bombers against the much-improved Saints, but they came out firing and held off St Mary’s late charge to win an all-time classic. The usual suspects all starred, with Jason Puruntatameri named best afield, while Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri each booted four goals. This was the game which proved what Tiwi was capable of.

Worst loss: Round 4 – def. by Wanderers 8.10 (58) to 10.12 (72)

Goals: G. Cunningham 2, R. Tungatalum 2, J. Simon, J. Best, P. Heenan, D. Munkara
Best: J. Puruntatameri, N. Djerrkura, R. Baird, B. Palipuaminni, S. Babui, L. Howe

Coming straight after such a team-lifting win against St Mary’s the previous week, this was such a disappointing way to back it up. In Tiwi’s first of just two losses to the eventual bottom three sides, a depleted Bombers lineup was outdone by the youthful and exciting Wanderers team. While the experience and class of Puruntatameri, Nathan Djerrkura, and Rodney Baird was there to steady the ship, the Muk Muks hit back strong after a slow opening term and held on for the surprise win. With a 1-3 start to the season, there were doubts over Tiwi’s credentials, which were quickly quashed.

Get to know: SANFL U18s – WWT Eagles

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS lays claim to a couple of exciting potential Port Adelaide father-son prospects eligible over the next two seasons, with Taj Schofield (Jarrad, 131 games) and Jase Burgoyne (Peter, 240) tied to the Alberton-based club. Both of their fathers were part of Port’s 2004 premiership side, making the link even more profound for either player and fans alike.

A top-ager this year, Schofield represented Western Australia – where he had lived for most of his life – at Under 16s level before transitioning to the South Australian state system as his father, Jarrad moved into a coaching role at Port Adelaide. The zippy small was part of the Croweaters’ State 18s squad last year and despite not yet running out in the tri-colours, is one of five Eagles to be part of the 2020 hub system. Schofield was part of the Eagles’ Under 18 premiership side last season, while also running out in the Under 17 All Star grand final curtain raiser, and playing part in Henley High’s losing tilt at the Open Schools Cup title.

Burgoyne, a smooth-moving outside midfielder, was also a member of the Eagles’ 2019 Under 18 premiership team and is looking to crack a Reserves debut in this, his bottom-age year. Having represented South Australia at last year’s Under 16 national carnival, there is plenty to like about Burgoyne – who currently sports a look similar to his old man. With all the experience of his champion father, uncle (Shaun, Hawthorn), and recently-rookied brother (Trent, Port Adelaide) to lean on, the latest Burgoyne on the scene has shown plenty of promise despite still being a raw prospect.

The pair spoke to Draft Central at this year’s South Australian pre-season testing day hosted by Rookie Me, on a bunch of topics ranging from their on-field roles, to goals, the importance of family in their journeys, and more. Get to know two of Woodville-West Torrens’ brightest draft prospects.

SCHOFIELD ON…

PRE-SEASON AND TESTING:

“It’s been pretty hard but I feel like I’m getting fit and all the boys are getting fit so hopefully it leads into a big year, it should be good.”

“I feel like I went alright in the agility (test) and hopefully I do good in the Yo-yo test, but we’ll see how we go… I’m a small player so those sort of tests (20m sprint and agility) do show my sort of game so it’s good.”

THE TRANSITION FROM WA TO SA:

“It’s been good. Obviously Dad got the role at Port Adelaide so we had to move over but all the boys have been really welcoming and it’s really helped my footy. Obviously the SA game-style is a little bit different to WA but it’s really developed my footy as well.”

DAD AS A MENTOR:

“He definitely is (an important mentor). He knows what he’s talking about and really helps me out when he can, but he tries to stay out of it a little bit now. But he’s really helped me and is really useful to me as well.”

2020 ROLE:

“I think I’ll still roll through the midfield but also play that half-forward and wing position as well, so just changing it up a bit.”

2020 GOALS:

“Probably just small things like making state teams and playing (well) week by week and hopefully the end-goal is to get drafted.”

MOST IMPORTANTLY…

“Yeah, I’m a Port fan… we’ll see what happens, we’ll make that decision during the year.”

BURGOYNE ON…

TESTING DAY:

“I started off a little slack like everyone else because we got here at 8:45am, but once we got into it, it started off pretty good for everyone and I think it’s gone well… I feel like I showed (my pace) in the 20m sprint (3.03 seconds) and the vertical jump (86cm running). I had a few shots so hopefully I got a good time.”

ON-FIELD STRENGTHS:

“I’d say my run-and-carry (are my strengths). I showcased that a little bit in the 16s, but in the 18s last year when I played up it wasn’t there. But hopefully I can come out and show a little bit of flair and x-factor.”

IMPROVEMENTS:

“Obviously my body-size, I’m a pretty skinny kid. And my contact and inside work, that’s the stuff I’m looking forward to.”

FAMILY INSIGHTS:

“Obviously it’s great, they give me insight into what it’s like to make the AFL and how hard it’s going to be. They pushed me hard to get where I am right now, so if I get there I can fit in perfectly and won’t have to do anything extra to try and fit in. So hopefully if I get there I’ll fit in fine.”

GOALS:

“This year I’m looking to maybe try and get a Reserves game, that’s the goal for me that I’ve set for myself so hopefully it’s the one that I can go ahead and accomplish.”