Djarrak Football Club will face off against Nguykal Football Club in Yirrkala at 2pm on Saturday and Senior Coach Hayden Rickard indicated he views the clash as a danger game after Round 8 produced two upsets with Nhulunbuy Baywara Football Club kicking a goal on the siren to defeat Nguykal FC and Nhulunbuy Saints Football Club winning over Gopu Football Club.
Whilst enjoying a healthy lead on the Gove AFL Ladder, Rickard was concerned his side could be underdone after 3 weeks since last playing. He said "This week will be a major test for us. I'd imagine our opposition will be highly motivated after getting pipped at the post last week. Our lads have been wrapped in cotton wool a little bit and we have been able to overcome soreness with the time off. We haven't been entirely dormant and have put a number of players through a considerable load. He added "We can't afford to start slow in this match. The challenge will be to get up and about from the get go and to me, that means being mentally right and ticking all the boxes. If we look at our last few games we have had to chase results after poor first quarters. Just need to get it right from the first whistle this week".
The Brown and Gold Army has a number of key outs and Rickard cited a lack of application to training as a determinant of this weeks selection process. He was uncompromising when asked if the team was getting ahead of itself at the halfway stage. He said "We have achieved nothing yet to date. The culture at the club is paramount when launching our closing phases of the year. I'm not prepared to select players who haven't ticked the training boxes during the week. There is no 'I' in team. There are no handouts in life. As a club, we won't be helping these young men if we give out team positions or reward poor behaviours".
Despite a number of players failing to win team starting selection, a quality outfit will welcome the return of Winston Yunupingu into the backline in a move that will cover the loss of Dale Dhamarrandji through vocational commitments in Darwin for the next fortnight. Murray and DJ Marika, Sylvester Wunungmurra and Che Mc'Gorm will be charged with controlling the tempo through the middle of the park and to dominate starting points at stoppages in order to disrupt the quality of any opposition possession.
Captain Djayminy Marika will again lead proceedings in the forward zone and continue to bring experience to the attacking group around him. Benji Maymuru will gets an opportunity and now moves close to finals qualification with a third straight stint. The former captain has a calming presence through the squad and Rickard has indicated that he views the veteran as a 'go to leader'.
The club welcomes first gamer Justin Tolley to the club and he will work from the defensive zone. Tolley, after recently relocating to Nhulunbuy, has been playing in the Groote Eylandt Football League and will team up with a GEFL contingent including Joel Ikupu, Nelson Bara and Campbell Wurramarrba in a reunion of sorts.
Football supporters are reminded to enjoy the Yarrapay Festival at Yirrkala tonight and tomorrow following the football. A live broadcast of the Yolngu Radio Footy Show will take place during the festival. Both nights will start at 6pm.