Preview of the Upcoming NTFL Season

BY – JACKSON CLARK

With all the excitement of the AFL season drawing to a close, football fans in the Top End need not worry with the 2013/14 Northern Territory Football League kicking off this Saturday. It should be an intriguing NTFL season with a number of themed rounds, a nine-game trial for the Central Australia side and the controversial player points system. I look at how the clubs are shaping up this season.

 

St Marys:

Any suggestion that St Marys will rest on its laurels and come out complacent should be put to bed. New coach Rick Nolan will accept nothing but the best from his chargers this season as the club looks to achieve back to back premierships. NT Thunder spearhead Darren Ewing and Geelong premiership player Mark Blake are among the big ins for St Marys however Xavier Clarke will be unavailable due to an injured knee. There have been whispers about 200-game St Kilda centre half forward Justin Koschitzke wanting to join the club and superstar country footballer Grant Weeks is also a chance to play. The Saints will retain most of last season’s premiership winning side and continual improvement from some of its junior players should ensure it remains one of the main contenders this season.

 

Nightcliff:

Second-year Nightcliff coach Damian Hale will have high-expectations on his playing group after a disappointing 2012/13 season. The Tigers look strong in all areas and are emerging as one of the main teams to beat this season. The club will be buoyed by the return of a number of key players that starred in 2011/12 when they fell agonisingly short of its first premiership since 1964/65. Nichols medallist Troy Coates, James Brain and Ash Duncan will form a damaging midfield while ruck duo Julian Lockwood and Kenrick Tyrrell should give them first use of the ball. The Tigers forwards in ex-Waratah player Todd Grima, Brant Chambers and Zeph Skinner will make any defenders nervous. Former Brisbane Lion Daniel Dzufer and SANFL midfielder Toby Stribling are also expected to suit up for Nightcliff. Tall utility Michael Gugliotta will be a notable absentee this season after recently undergoing shoulder surgery. It is expected that Nightcliff will field a much more experienced side to last year but a talented crop of under 18 talent will increase the depth of the playing list.

 

Tiwi Bombers:

It was an interesting off-season for the Tiwi Bombers with minor disruption in the coaching ranks. Appointed coach Willie Rioli relinquished the role before the start of the season making way for joint-coaches Cameron Hotton and Greg Orsto. It will be a familiar looking side on the field with a similar interstate contingent to last season. Billy and Darcy Barden should add height and strength to the Tiwi spine while experienced midfielders Kristan Height and Paul Scanlon are set to return. Former NT Thunder player Narby Kelly and 204cm ruckman Tim Martin are likely to be back while Paddy Heenan will stay at the club despite rumours that he was leaving. Captain Shane Tipuamantamerri will provide plenty of leadership through the midfield after his Nichols Medal winning season last year while Jason Puruntatameri’s skills from the backline will be a feature of the Bombers side. Former St Kilda, Sydney and Western Bulldogs forward Barry Hall could be an outside chance to pull on a Bombers jumper this season and would help the playing list immensely should that eventuate.

 

Wanderers:

Wanderers have a winning culture associated with the club in recent times and that is expected to continue this season. Coach Paul Motlop has cited slow starts to the season as an area the Eagles would like to improve on this year. After falling just short of qualifying for the last two grand finals, the club will strive to go one better this season. Most of its players from last year are back on board while the club will look to add a handful of players from other sides to its list this season. Journeymen brothers Nathan and Braedon McLean have come across from Waratah and should bring skill and composure to the side while another former Warrior in Iain MacPherson will slot into the backline. Delisted Gold Coast Suns player Liam Patrick is likely to play while former Buffaloes co-captain Jordan Wilson-King has also signed with the club.

 

Southern Districts:

Southern Districts will place a higher emphasis on junior development during its 2013/14 premiership campaign. The Crocs side of last season boasted a number of interstate recruits, which may not be viable with the new points system in place this season. The Kimberley connection at the club is set to continue with William Farrer, Sonny Dann and former West Coast player Gerrick Weedon likely to play. Record-breaking spearhead Damian Cupido is back for another season while the Crocs will be hoping that retired AFL player Jared Brennan will pull on a red, white and black jumper. Brian Coleman-Broome, a talented indigenous footballer from Queensland, is linked to the club after playing football in Katherine this year.

 

Palmerston:

Palmerston is the sleeping giant of the competition with a great redeveloped home base and facilities at Northline. The club has undergone a number of changes over the off season. The most significant of these changes is of course the appointment of a new senior coach in Dean Rioli. The former Essendon player took over the top job from Russell Jeffrey earlier in the year and will look to a more conservative approach to fly-in fly-out players and hope for improvement to come through its talented core of junior players. The Magpies will look to bolster its midfield stocks after identifying that as a weakness last season. Losing Darren Ewing to St Marys leaves a gap in their forward line but the re-signing of Jake Dignan will be welcomed news. Aaron Davey may play a few games for the club after retiring from the Melbourne Demons after a distinguished career.

 

Darwin:

It has been a quiet off season for the Darwin Buffaloes. The double blues have struggled badly in recent times but coach Mark Motlop will be looking at improving the club one step at a time. The Buffaloes have lost Joseph Collinson and last season’s co-captain and former Fremantle rookie Jordan Wilson-King who have both left for other clubs. Charlie McAdam is another player that could find himself at another club this season. After transferring to St Marys last season, utility Kelvin Williams may be back in Buffaloes colours this season and should play a role either up forward or in defence. The club has scoured the bush and in particular Maningrida and Ngukurr for the next gem footballer.

 

Waratah:

Waratah has kept its cards close to its chest in what has been a quiet off season for the club. Coach Brenton Toy will be keen on fostering the development of the junior players at Waratah. The Warriors will rely on consistent performances from its solid core of local players such as Justin Beugelaar, Josh Chaplin, James Wray and Jack McEwin. It is unsure what calibre of recruits Waratah are expected to field but it is rumoured the few SANFL players will pull on a red and white jumper.

 

Twitter – @JClark182

 

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.

Comments

  1. Mark Duffett says:

    I don’t miss Darwin often, but reading this makes it one of those times.

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