Plenty of quality footballers are running around in the NTFL competition but as the league is on the eve of the finals, I have compiled a list of what I believe to be the top 16 performers this season. Note: to be eligible for this list, a player has had to have played a minimum of eight games this season.
1. Damian Cupido, 30, Southern Districts
The former Brisbane and Essendon player is without a doubt the main player in the NTFL competition. Continually kicks massive hauls of goals despite opposition teams sometimes playing a loose man to cut off his leads. Cupido is quick on the lead, reads the play exceptionally well and rarely wastes opportunities in front of goal.
2. Rupert Pupungamirri, 26, Tiwi Bombers
His playing style was compared with Chris Judd when he first burst on the scene with Waratah a couple of years ago. The big-bodied midfielder has produced arguably his best season to date for the Bombers. Big Rupert is deceptively evasive and possesses an elite skillset.
3. Shannon Rioli, 21, St Marys
Rioli is playing sublime football with St Marys at the moment through the midfield and up forward. He is developing as one of the main leaders at the Saints and uses his brilliant kick to deliver lace out passes to his forwards.
4. Ross Tungatalum, 22, Tiwi Bombers
On his day, Ross Tungatalum is the most exciting and skilled player in the competition. ‘Rocco’ regularly makes the impossible look simple on the football field and is a human highlight reel. He spent a year on St Kilda’s rookie list and has been in the top echelon of players in the NTFL for the last couple of years.
5. Justin Wilson, 30, St Marys
The man known as ‘Ferret’ is often seen at the bottom of a pack or in scuffles with opposition players. Wilson boasts and enviable football résumé having played top quality football in many leagues down south over a number of years.
6. Pierce Liddle, 22, Palmerston
The hard as nails leader of the Palmerston Magpies, Liddle has been a shining light in what has been a dim season for his club. He has had plenty of experience at VFL level and leads from example at the Magpies with his ferocious attack on the football.
7. Peter Macfarlane, 29, St Marys
Peter Macfarlane, the inspirational skipper of St Marys, continues to have a big impact on games in the NTFL. He is a fearless leader with perhaps the best contested mark in the competition. ‘Noodles’ is best suited to a centre half forward position but can pinch hit in the ruck or in defence if needed.
8. Chris Dunne, 26, Wanderers
Dunne is a unique player in that he has an uncanny knack of finding space, often in the attacking half of the ground. Despite being only slightly built, Dunne is able to use his hard running to kick big bags of goals when playing half forward and in the midfield.
9. Karl Lohde, 31, St Marys
Lohde is another that has had a distinguished career in the Top End, playing in a number of premierships with St Marys. Tough around the clinches and a good ball winner, Lohde is a multiple best and fairest winner at Saints and a valuable asset to the team.
10. Simon Munkara, 29, Tiwi Bombers
Simon Munkara has been a top performer at NTFL level for a long time. Strong and skilful, the goal kicking midfielder very rarely plays a bad game.
11. Aaron Motlop, 27, Wanderers
Motlop has had a consistent season at Wanderers this season and seems to save his best for big occasions, as shown by being judged best afield in the 2010/11 grand final. The silky-smooth midfielder works well through traffic and rarely misses a target by hand or foot.
12. Laurence Angwin, 30, Southern Districts
The 200cm giant has been forced to play higher up the ground due to the dominance of Damian Cupido but is still a very effective player. Angwin has great agility for a big man and takes a solid overhead mark.
13. Dion Munkara, 21, Tiwi Bombers
Munkara stepped his game up a notch last season and was one of the main contributors in the Bombers’ premiership. He is dangerous around goals and also in a sweeping role in defence.
14. Luke Jarjoura, 29, Nightcliff
It was a year of controversy for the Tigers’ main recruit this season. Jarjoura lost the support of his coach and teammates and was sacked from the club before the end of the season. But there is no doubting that on his day he is a handy footballer, with the ability to kick goals up forward and play in other positions.
15. Troy Kelm, 24, Nightcliff
Kelm has produced a consistent season with Nightcliff after coming across with a big reputation in country Victoria. The 195cm athletic ruckman has recently signed with VFL club Bendigo Gold and would look better if he was tapping the ball to a more dominant midfield.
16. Timothy Mosquito, 21, Waratah
The man from the East Kimberley League has not been as dominant as previous years but is still a more than handy addition in the Waratah backline. Despite being one of the smallest players in the competition, Mosquito is just as dangerous in a defensive role as he is attacking from the backline.
Twitter – @JClark182