Having had the opportunity to train with the Gold Coast SUNS last year when they were in Darwin, rookie Lloyd Johnston will return to his hometown this weekend as a fully-fledged SUNS player. 

Johnston, who came through the StreetSmarts SUNS Academy in Darwin, had the opportunity to train with the players during last year’s Darwin trip and even helped as a volunteer property steward on gameday. 

While putting on a great performance in front of the Darwin faithful will be the main focus, the rookie said it will be very special to return home and play in front of friends and family. 

“Last year I was up there mixing Gatorade and helping the boys out, but now I actually get to play footy up there,” Johnston said. 

“Watching and training with the boys up there last year really motivated me a lot more. 

“I wanted to become a part of that family and on an AFL list. Now playing up in Darwin is a dream come true.

“It means a lot to me to be a representative of the club. 

“All I want to do is inspire other young kids to do what I’ve done and help them realise their dreams.”

But it won’t be all footy in Darwin, there will be great opportunities during the week to get out into the community, something Johnston is very excited about. 

“It’ll be a lot of fun to show the boys what the territory is all about and to show them what I did as a kid,” Johnston said. 

“There will be lots of laughs all around. 

“There will also be plenty of time to catch up with family and friends. 

“I’m getting calls every day from family wanting tickets. It’s full-on.” 

The Gold Coast SUNS will play the Western Bulldogs at TIO Stadium, Darwin on Saturday at 6.55pm, with the SUNS VFL team playing a curtain raiser at 3.30pm against the Footscray Bulldogs.