No ma­jor hopes for Thomas

NT News - - SPORT - JOSH SPASARO

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.”

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