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Suns name Territory trio for homecoming clash against North Melbourne

Jackson Clark -

The Gold Coast Suns have named a trio of Territorians ahead of its clash against North Melbourne on Saturday at TIO Stadium in Darwin.

The Suns included in-form utility Joel Jeffrey and emerging talent Lloyd Johnston for their first games of the season, while ex-St Kilda player Ben Long has retained his spot in the team.

Jeffrey has relished the move from the forward-line to defence and was averaging 28 disposals per game across his first month in the VFL, before a quieter performance last week in a big win against Brisbane.

Johnston has returned from an interrupted pre-season and has been rewarded off the back of impressive form in the VFL where he has kicked multiple goals in both appearances.

Jeffrey told the NT News that it has been a frustrating start to his 2024 campaign.

“I haven’t started this season as I wanted, but that’s footy and the way it is, I’ve just got to keep working on what I can control,” Jeffrey said.

“I’ve been playing consistent footy, but there’s just a few things I need to work.

“As a rebound defender I’ve just got to keep attacking the ball and using my speed to get it forward, I’ve been working hard at that and it’s starting to show.”

Joel Jeffrey celebrates a goal during last year's clash against St Kilda. (Image: AFL)

The Suns have turned TIO Stadium into a fortress over the past two years and Jeffrey is confident the club can continue its winning ways up north.

“The boys love playing up there with our recent record and we’re looking forward to coming back up and playing again,” he said.

“Anything can happen in footy and we won’t take North lightly, and while Geelong are top we always play well in Darwin so there’s confidence that we can go up and get two wins.

“It’s a great thing to be playing in front of family and friends having done it the past few years.”

Jeffrey signed a four-year contract extension last year that will see him tied to the club until at least the end of the 2028 season.

A super-talented junior player, Jeffrey is in his fourth season at the club and has played 16 games since debuting in 2021.

He burst onto the scene with a five-goal display against the Western Bulldogs in 2022.

The son of St Kilda player Russell Jeffrey, the 22-year-old has shown great promise at VFL level and starred in last year’s grand final win.

Unfortunately for the Suns, dynamic small forward Malcolm Rosas is still over a month away from a return from a hamstring injury sustained earlier in the season against Sydney.

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