Thursday 10 February 2011

The presence of recently-retired AFL superstar Andrew McLeod will be a huge boost to the newly-formed North East Australian Football League.

The NT Thunder officially confirmed last night that McLeod (pictured courtesy NT News) would wear the ochre, black and white jumper seven times in 2011, including games in the nationally televised Foxtel Cup.

McLeod told the NT News’ Grey Morris that he was confident his troublesome right knee would stand up to the rigours of interstate football after confirming his new playing contract with the NEAFL club.

The knee injury hastened his retirement from the AFL last year after 340 games, 17season and two premierships with Adelaide, but McLeod is confident a long rehabilitation will have him firing for his home state.

“I’ve been able to give it a good break and rehabilitate the knee the best I possibly could. I guess there are no guarantees, but it’s pretty good and I’m pretty happy. So everything’s positive”, McLeod told the NT News.

McLeod played down suggestions he was a potential captain in his first season with Thunder, saying he was more than happy with his role as a player.

“You don’t have to have the captaincy role to be a leader at any footy club”, he said.

Thunder coach Murray Davis has reportedly promised McLeod the famous No. 23 jumper that he wore in Adelaide following the departure of last year’s wearer Brett Goodes.

A dual Norm Smith Medallist in the Crows’ 1997 and 98 grand final wins, McLeod’s 340 AFL games make him the longest serving Indigenous player in the AFL’s 114-year history.

Originally a Darwin Buffaloes Junior, McLeod started his senior career with SANFL club Port Adelaide, where he played in the club’s 1994 premiership.

He won the Adelaide Crows’ best and fairest award in 1997, 2001 and 2007, and was named All Australian in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2007 when he was made captain.

He was an unlucky runner-up in the 2001 Brownlow Medal to Jason Akermanis. McLeod is also a member of the Indigenous Team of the Century.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to pull on the Thunder jumper and give something back to NT footy,” McLeod said. “I am also looking forward to working with the group, in particular the younger players to help them develop as players and as individuals.”

Thunder coach Murray Davis was obviously delighted to have the services of the champion at his disposal.

“As coach of the club having Andrew McLeod on board for the 2011 season is very exciting. Not only as a quality player that prides himself on his performance but as a leader for our whole playing group,” Davis said.

“I’m certainly looking forward to working with him and will be seeking his knowledge of the game to assist in enhancing our performances but also developing each player on and off the field.”

McLeod will be the best credentialled players seen at State League level.
The Thunder have not confirmed which games he will be available for, although he is expected to participate in the opening Foxtel Cup clash against Morningside at the Gabba on 26 March.

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