No major hopes for Thomas
LINDSAY Thomas had an impressive 11-year AFL career, kicking 329 goals over 212 games mainly at the Kangaroos.
Which is why some might be surprised to read that Darwin Buffaloes player-coach Matt Campbell is not expecting much from his former North Melbourne teammate and star recruit.
Thomas will make his NTFL debut for the doubleblues against Wanderers in Round 2 of NTFL action at TIO Stadium tonight.
“Everyone is expecting him to dominate,” Campbell said of the 30-year-old forward.
“But we’re not expecting that. We’re still a good side without Lindsay there, so we just want him to come in and play his role.
“We’re not expecting him to kick a lot of goals — we’d be just as happy if he dished it off and set up some goals.
“The biggest thing about having a player of Lindsay’s calibre there is the knowledge he’ll pass on to our players.
“Adam Sambono will benefit from it in the forward line, and having Darren Shillabeer in for this game give us more experience at that part of the ground.”
Campbell was impressed with the fighting qualities the Wanderers team showed in its 19-point victory over Tiwi last Saturday. The Eagles fought back from a 20-point deficit at quarter-time.
“They’re a young side and that’s what young sides can do — they can fight back and challenge their opponents,” Campbell said.
Wanderers coach Peter Leonard said the Eagles have rediscovered their self-belief this season, after finishing secondlast with just five wins in their 2017-18 campaign.
“The boys have confidence in their legs and fitness because they had a really good pre-season,” he said.
“In the last three quarters against Tiwi we were really composed, and we want to play composed footy this season.”
Leonard believes Wanderers will match up well against last season’s grand finalists.
“Buffaloes are one of the yardsticks of the competition,” he said. “So we’ll have to match their pace. We’re confident we can with guys like Marlon Motlop and Sam Christie, and if Neil Vea Vea can get his hands on the ball often.” SOUTHERN Districts know they will be in for a tough battle against St Mary’s at TIO Stadium.
Saints almost pulled of the upset of Round 1 against Nightcliff last weekend, having taken a three-point lead into the final break.
The Tigers did not win an easy ball all match, and Crocs coach Shannon Rusca is expecting a similar challenge in today’s twilight fixture.
“We are facing a list that is young, enthusiastic and very vibrant under a new coach (Brent Renouf), so they could be very dangerous,” Rusca said.
“That’s what happens when you have a new coach and very good youth.
“(St Mary’s) are very talented and (Renouf) is coaching to a great style, and they are playing a great style.
“We are in for a four-quarter effort, no doubt.”
Rusca was pleased with how his side responded to an early Darwin Buffaloes onslaught in last weekend’s six-point win.
And having grasped momentum, he wants to keep hold of it.
“The players have got an expectation that they have set amongst themselves, and having the reigning premier’s tag brings expectation,” he said.
“They handled the pressure very well early on (against Darwin) and from there found the tempo, used the ball very well and transitioned from one end to the other extremely well.
“We have got to make sure we keep winning games. Every game you go out to win and that’s our mindset. We have got good momentum and we want to keep it flowing.”
For Renouf, he just wants more of the same from his young troops.
“We will always have a crack and that’s all you can ask of them,” the first-year mentor said.
“I was happy with their effort against Nightcliff and we are looking to build on that.
“Everything was contested and that’s all I can ask of the boys, that they turn up and have the right attitude to play.
“It will be tough going though. We do have a few forced changes, so some other guys will get opportunities.
“Until we get some of our players back, like Shannon and Ben Rioli, who will bring polish, obviously the whole team (performance) is based on pressure and attitude.”