CAMPERDOWN onballer Sam Chapman could become a Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) premiership player.
Chapman yesterday said Darwin-based club St Mary’s had invited him to play a part in its NTFL finals campaign, which starts in three weeks.
The former Victoria Country representative has played five matches with the Saints as part of an extended trip north during summer, kicking three goals.
He has been in the best players four out of the five matches and will play a sixth, away against Tiwi Bombers, this weekend.
Chapman, 30, will return to the south-west on Monday to resume his teaching degree at Deakin University, meaning he’ll miss the the final home-and-away match against Southern Districts.
But he said club officials were keen for him to return to Darwin for finals.
“I’m sussing out when I can come up,” he said.
“They’ve indicated they’d be happy to have me. It’s a matter of what I can do around uni.
“It’s looking like I’ll fly in on a Thursday and come home on a Sunday.”
St Mary’s has a 15-1 record from 16 matches and has sewn up the minor premiership.
The NTFL uses a top-five finals system like the Hampden league, so Chapman would not be required in Darwin until week two of finals on March 2.
The preliminary final is on March 9 and the grand final is on March 16.
Chapman said he had relished his brief stint at the Saints.
He is working three days a week with a gardening company and checking out the sights of Darwin and the Top End.
“It’s nowhere near as physical. so it suits my style a little bit. I’m not pulling up anywhere near as sore as you do back home,” he said.
“It’s been a great pre-season for me — hasn’t been overly hard.
“I was a bit worried about coming up here and burning out later in the season, but it’s been pretty good.
“Training is short because of the hot weather. You do a 45-minute session and you’re done.
“The biggest adjustment is getting used to the heat.”
Among his teammates are former St Kilda footballers Xavier and Raphael Clarke, Colac utility Kane Leersen and champion Golden Square goalkicker Grant Weeks.
About 80 per cent of the St Mary’s playing list are indigenous footballers.
Chapman said the experience had been worthwhile.
“I head off to Tiwi Islands to play over there (on Sunday), which is going to be fantastic,” he said.
“The quality of the footy is pretty surprising. There are a lot of ex-AFL players running around here.
“We’ve got Xav Clarke and Raph Clarke in our side, along with a handful of Rioli boys and a handful of Long boys. It’s been a real great experience just to see these indigenous boys play.”
St Mary’s club development manager Stephen Soulsby, a former Hampden league chief executive officer, said Chapman had been fantastic for the club.
“Once it comes to finals selection he’s right in the mix, but that’s a decision for the coaching staff,” he said.
“We’ve been extremely happy with his form.
“He’s really gelled with the playing group.”