By: JESS WEBSTER
Southport signs Townsville basketballer Tom Howard
Southport Sharks have bolstered their ruck stocks by signing former Townsville basketball star Tom Howard.
The 21-year-old trialled with the Gold Coast Suns in the first month of pre-season training in the hopes of being signed as a Category B rookie.
But when Howard’s opportunity didn’t eventuate, the club put him in touch with the Sharks to continue his football development in the NEAFL next year.
Howard had only played one year of football in his junior days before concentrating on his basketball career. He played played three games for the Crocodiles in the NBL before they pulled out of the new-look national competition for this season due to financial troubles.
The 200cm ruck prospect, who was travelling down from Townsville to the Gold Coast mid-week to train with the Suns, began training with their academy before joining the senior group when they returned from their off-season break.
Howard said initially reached out to the Suns to see whether there would be any interest, but once he was given an opportunity he wanted to make the most of it.
“When Townsville folded I was left with no real option,” he said.
“I was playing off-season basketball in Townsville and my manager and I were talking about football, and once I got in contact with the Suns, they got back to me pretty much straight away.
“I did a few sessions with the academy group first because the senior list were still on end of season break. The ball kept rolling from there and I stayed with them for a while.
“It was heaps of fun. I really enjoyed it at the Suns and they were all behind me.
“It was unfortunate they couldn’t get the funding to keep me on, so they put me towards Southport and that’s where I’m at.”
Howard is a big boost to the Sharks key position stocks to help carry the load alongside NEAFL Team of the Year ruckman Fraser Thurlow.
Howard said he relished the chance to train in a professional environment with the Suns, and is looking forward to making the permanent move to the Gold Coast in the New Year.
“There were around 40 blokes training and everyone gets on so well. I was super happy to be a part of it all, so I didn’t have too much trouble transitioning in terms of that side of things," he said.
“I’m extremely excited to join Southport. I’m super keen to try and help them out much as I can.
“I’ve only been to one session so far but the boys were really good. I think they are keen to have me on and help me learn and develop.
“I just can’t wait to get out on the field with them and have a kick, get to know them all better and hopefully help bring some success to the Sharks.”
Meanwhile, the Sharks have also confirmed star forward Jack Anthony has re-signed for the 2017 season.
Palm Beach ruckman/forward Jon Croad, and Aspley ruckman Jed Turner – who resides on the Gold Coast - have also joined the club.
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