Season Preview: NT Thunder
We're looking ahead at season 2013, starting with the 2012 runners-up, NT Thunder.
The NT Thunder have been one of the most successful teams in the NEAFL Northern Conference, but senior coach Daniel Archer said his focus was not on the side’s win-loss ratio.
The Thunder have won 29 of 36 regular season matches wince the NEAFL began, with two consecutive minor premierships and one conference and cross-conference championship as well.
However, Archer said, this incredible ratio was simply an added bonus, based on the strong culture the club has built.
“The great thing about coaching up here is it’s all about creating a positive environment. All of our players have to be in full-time work or study,” he said.
“The success is a by-product of our environment.”
With 80 per cent of the list now made up of Territory footballers, Archer said the strength of their development program was really shining through.
“It’s one of the club objectives that we’re a local-based club,” Archer said.
“To have 80 per cent of our list as local talent is a good tick for what the program’s about and what it’s been able to.”
When looking at the Thunder’s 2013 prospects, it’s hard to ignore the amount of talent in their side.
Despite the loss of 2012 best and fairest Jason Roe, Archer said the club had enough talent to continue its recent success this season.
“I think there’s enough talent in the list to keep going,” Archer said.
“At the end of the day, we’re making sure everyone does what they need to do and we keep the environment as positive as possible.
“We’ve kept a really core group and added to it. It’s an exciting time ahead.”
The club welcomes back three 2011 premiership players this season in Aaron Motlop, Shannon Rioli and Bradley Palipuaminni.
Former Mt Gravatt utility, Chris Smith, also joins the Thunder this season, after relocating to Darwin.
Despite youngster Jed Anderson being drafted, the NT side has no shortage of rising stars as well, headed by the enigmatic Ben Rioli.
Archer said Rioli was one of a number of players he had earmarked for a strong year in 2013, after missing out on an AFL spot last season.
“We’re really hoping that Rioli has another stand out year, he was unlucky not to get a chance [in the AFL]. We would love to see him back up with a really good year,” he said.
The Thunder have signed a number of NT youngsters this season, including AIS Academy players Nakia Cockatoo and Errin Wasley-Black, which Archer said was a huge plus for the club.
“They’re a mix of Darwin boys and Alice boys that have come through our talent pathways and played in either the under-16 or under-18 side,” he said.
“To get that young group has really injected some enthusiasm and it’s great to be able to attract returning local talent.”
The NT Thunder kick off their NEAFL campaign against Broadbeach, at TIO Stadium on March 23.
NT Ins 2013:
Neil Vea Vea
Damian Williams Jnr