SUNS defender Jez McLennan will travel to Darwin for the first time this weekend when Gold Coast’s NEAFL team take on the NT Thunder for its Round 5 match.
McLennan has more than one reason to be excited for the trip… he’ll reunite with one of his former football mentors up north, Darren Reeves.
Reeves is the current head coach of the Thunder NEAFL team, but was originally a coach for Central Districts – McLennan’s former South-Australian club.
“The head coach over there is actually my previous coach back at SANFL,” McLennan told SUNS Media.
“So it will be good to see him over there and I’ve also got a couple of players I used to play against in the (Thunder) team so yeah looking forward to the game.
“I’m not looking forward to the flight but yeah it should be good over there.”
McLennan has played in the four NEAFL games to start the year and averaged 15 disposals and four marks per match.
The 18-year-old says he’s adapting to playing in a new environment and is feeling more comfortable each week.
He’s been working extensively with NEAFL Coach Nick Malceski to develop his game further in areas he can control.
“Coming into the club probably my intercepting was a key thing,” McLennan said.
“Being one of the smaller players I haven’t been able to do that so much so just getting my ground-level craft right and just my body positioning out on the field.
“I’ve been working closely with Nick Malceski and we’ve been going over structures and stuff like that and he’s really helped me out along the way.”
Now into his sixth month living on the Gold Coast, McLennan says he is feeling right at home.
After living with Lachie Weller when he first joined the club, McLennan has now moved in with the Powell family and is enjoying everything the Coast has to offer.
“It’s been unreal, I’d say surfing would probably be my highlight over here,” he said.
“I do a lot with Wil Powell and his dad and just yeah getting out to some of the coffee shops around and just sort of building my social life around the Gold Coast, that’s probably been my highlight over here.”
The Round 5 NEAFL match kicks off at 6:30pm local time at TIO Stadium in Darwin.