NTFL’s Best Recruits


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The Northern Territory Football League is a unique competition in that it is played during the southern cricket seasons (October-March). This allows the competition to attract footballers from all over the country that crave a football fix. Players from the SANFL, VFL, WAFL, NEAFL, and country Victoria regularly venture to the Top End to play in the NTFL. This year we have seen 40 players play in the league that have previously been on AFL lists, which is down from over 50 last year. The new player points rule has capped the quantity of recruits coming into the competition but certainly not the quality. I have listed below six players who have made an impact in their first year in the NTFL.

Seb Guilhaus (Nightcliff):

The giant ruckman from Central District in the SANFL has taken the NTFL competition by storm after a number of dominant rucking performances. Guilhaus originally trained with St Marys before opting on plying his trade for Nightcliff. The ruck division in the NTFL has been uncharacteristically strong this season and he possesses all the traits you could ask for in a ruckman. His awkward kicking style is generally effective and he has proven on occasions that he can kick a goal up forward.

Justin Van Unen (St Marys):

The strongly-built full forward from Victoria is a supremely talented footballer. Van Unen spent most of his football in the TAC Cup for Oakleigh Chargers playing up the field before making the transition to deep forward in recent years. He is one of the most highly rated players in Victorian country and regional football and spent last season playing for Vermont in the strong Eastern Football League. He was almost signed, sealed and delivered to the Tiwi Bombers before deciding on St Marys at the last minute. After kicking 12 goals against Buffaloes on debut he followed it up with a bag of ten against Palmerston the next week. He kicked 66 goals in the minor rounds to be the clear winner of the Dennis Dunn trophy. Van Unen is an awkward player for defenders to match up on such is his speed and ability at ground level.

Matthew Dennis (Palmerston):

The agile 200cm utility arrived at Palmerston this season after playing with Cameron Cloke at Bundoora in the Northern Football League in Melbourne. Dennis dominates in the Northern Football League and won the competition best and fairest in 2012. He arrived in Darwin with very little fanfare but made an impression straight away with his vice like marking and phenomenal work rate for a big man. His performance in the Magpies’ upset win over Tiwi Bombers was amazing in what was terrible conditions for someone of his size. In very wet conditions, Dennis would have gathered in excess of 20 disposals while taking a number of big marks and making an impact on the scoreboard.

Jack Shannahan (Palmerston):

While he is far from the most flashy or spectacular player in the NTFL, Shannahan has still managed to make an impact at Palmerston. The lightly built half-forward/midfielder has the ability to run all day and simply outwork his opponents. He has had experience with the Geelong VFL side and plays for Lara in the Geelong Football League. It is no surprise that Shannahan’s good form in the middle stages of the year coincided with Palmerston winning many games.

Luke Harder (Waratah):

The powerful midfielder/forward from the SANFL was a revelation in the first couple of rounds of the NTFL season. Harder was in the top couple of players on the ground in each of his early appearances before a broken jaw halted his season. The 24-year-old won Port Adelaide’s leading goalkicker award in 2012 and has proven to be handy in front of goals for Waratah. He almost single-handedly led the Warriors to a Foundation Cup win after a five goal performance and many crucial possessions while playing on the ball.

Jake Roe-Duggan (Southern Districts):

Roe-Duggan has received very little acknowledgement or accolades for his first season in Southern Districts colours. But the hard-running utility has the ability to break the lines and normally uses the ball well by hand and foot. He has been named in Districts’ best players on 10 occasions from his 13 appearances and was on the NT Thunder training invitation list.


And for those that were wondering about the 40 ex-AFL players, they are listed here:


Central Australia (2): Matt Campbell, Gibson Turner

St Marys (3): Mark Blake, Raphael Clarke, Kevin Tandogac

Nightcliff (5): Jason Roe, Toby Stribling, Aaron Cornelius, Todd Grima, Daniel Dzufer

Southern Districts (8): Jared Brennan, Des Headland, Richard Tambling, Damian Cupido, Brad Dick, Troy Taylor, Gerrick Weedon, Ben Dowdell

Wanderers (8): Eddie Sansbury, Daniel Motlop, Marlon Motlop, Michael Pettigrew, Nathan Djerrkura, Shane Thorne, Liam Patrick, Jordan Wilson-King

Tiwi Bombers (6): Liam Jurrah, Austin Wonaeamirri, Tom McNamara, Ross Tungatalum, Bart McCulloch, Kristan Height

Buffaloes (3): David Mensch, Tim Van Der Klooster, Cameron Stokes

Palmerston (3): Alwyn Davey, Aaron Davey, Cameron Cloke

Waratah (2): Tom Gillies, Michael Handby

About Jackson Clark

Born and bred in Darwin, Northern Territory, I am a young, aspiring football writer that lives and breathes the game of Australian Football. I'm also a keen player and coach.


  1. Thanks Jackson, I enjoy your reports as they portray the NTFL as a vibrant, rollicking, skilful and demanding league. I would love to get up there some time to watch a few games.

    That’s an impressive array of AFL players in the competition.

    Which of the players you reviewed should the Hawks be looking at more closely?


  2. Jackson Clark says

    Thanks for the comments mate.

    It’s hard to a put my finger on players in the NTFL that could be good enough to find themselves on an AFL list.

    From my team, Justin Van Unen is an amazingly talented player and Shaq McKenzie is a young gun from Western Australia that I think could maybe take a step up.

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