Final Dress Rehearsal for the Thunder

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 6:16 PM

by Alex Paull


A HOST of young stars and a Docker with Grand Final experience headline the inclusions for Peel Thunder’s final practice match against South Fremantle at Bendigo Bank Stadium tomorrow.

Nick Suban is the big inclusion for the Thunder, with the versatile midfielder to maintain match fitness while serving a one-match suspension from last year’s AFL Grand Final.

Joining Suban in the side is highly-regarded Dockers rookie Michael Apeness, youngster Russell Shore, Eaton product Jesse Hockings and defender Toby Gianatti.

Football general manager Brad Bootsma said the inclusion of Shore – an 18-year-old from Waroona – was reward for a strong pre-season.

“Shore came out of Colts last year, he really impressed during pre-season and the game he played last week really caught the eye, and he deserved the opportunity to have a go in a scratch match and see how he goes,” Bootsma said.

 “He’s a ripper kid, really coachable and definitely has some skill and ability to see how he goes at that level.”

Apeness was drafted by the Dockers with their first pick at number 17, and with the young forward coming straight out of TAC Cup last year, Bootsma said it was a great opportunity for the young forward to demonstrate his talents.

“We’re really rapt to give him an opportunity to play some senior footy, and he looks like a really strong, powerful lad, a lively forward who is probably looking to get his career underway, and that starts on Saturday with us,” he said.

The Thunder were very impressive for three quarters last week against Perth before fading, and Bootsma said this week would again be about ensuring the playing group gelled as a unit.

“This weekend is about learning, there are more blokes coming into the side who wouldn’t know anyone, so we’re still trying to get that balance of new guys getting to know the players and the game style that’s going to be implemented,” Bootsma said.

“I think the focuses would be to keep getting more minutes into key players and make sure we’re progressing for Round 1, so no different to last week.”

Entry into Bendigo Bank Stadium is free, while after the game Thunder players will go under the hammer as part of the player’s auction and the 2014 Season Launch.