STAR onballer Jordie McKenzie has re-acquainted himself with the Northern Territory as he prepares for his first season in coaching ranks.
McKenzie will line-up for Waratah against the Palmerston Magpies in the North Territory Football League (NTFL) match of the round on Sunday.
It is McKenzie’s debut season in the NTFL but not his first footballing experience in the territory.
“I played a few games in Darwin when I was at Melbourne,” McKenzie said.
“That was during the winter so it is a bit different this time of year.”
McKenzie made a successful return to his home club, Terang Mortlake, in 2018, winning the Bloods’ best and fairest in his first full season in the Hampden league.
He has recommitted to 2019, signing on as an assistant coach to Michael Sargeant.
While he has played only three NTFL games so far, and is unsure of how many more he will be available for, McKenzie is making the most of his time playing football in a summer landscape.
“It has been a really good experience, it’s a different brand of footy with the hot conditions and the big grounds. It is more of an outside game.
“There are some really good players running around. I love playing footy and my body is in good shape so I thought it was the perfect time to give having a run up here a go.
“I’m learning a lot from a new set of coaches, you pick up something from everywhere you play.”
McKenzie, who played 79 games AFL games before winning a best and fairest at North Adelaide in the SANFL, has plenty of familiar faces around him in Darwin.
Former and current Terang Mortlake players to don the Waratah kit this season include Brodie Carroll, Tommy Arundell, Dylan Wareham, Joe Arundell, Martin Sargeant, Dominic Kenna, Dylan Jones, Matthew Arundell and Liam O’Connor.
Former and now retired Terang Mortlake stars Darren Little and David O’Sullivan are also at Waratah in coaching roles.
Another Bloods star, Jess Budarick, is playing for opposition club Nightcliff.
Budarick and Carroll, who finished second and third respectively in Terang Mortlake’s 2018 best and fairest, have yet to commit to the Bloods for 2019.
“They are both Darwin boys and the NT Thunder has shown some interest in them,” McKenzie said.
“Obviously we would love to have them back at Terang Mortlake but we’re not too sure of what will happen at this stage.
“While we never like losing players, the club is always really supportive of anyone who wants to have a crack at playing at a higher level so hopefully Brodie and Jess get a chance with the Thunder.”