Northern Territory product, Joel Jeffrey is set to debut in the AFL this weekend, running out with the Gold Coast SUNS against the Melbourne Demons.
This season Jeffrey has had a string of impressive performances for the SUNS VFL side, including three-goal and five-goal hauls in a VFL fixture against the GWS Giants and practice match against the Sydney Swans respectively.
Last weekend the 19-year-old raised the bar again with a nine-goal haul in a best-on-ground performance in the team’s demolition of Aspley.
Head of AFLNT Stuart Totham said he’s thrilled to see another Jeffrey named as a Senior AFL player and the AFLNT and Gold Coast SUNS partnership continue to thrive.
“This is a really proud moment. It is not easy for people from the Territory to be handed this opportunity of playing senior footy for an elite club, but Joel’s hard work has paid off,” Totham said.
“He’s worked hard from junior footy as part of the TIO NTFL with the Wanderers footy club, Cazalys NT Thunder Academy and in the SUNS program for this opportunity and it’s awesome to see such a great role model for younger Territorian footy players to see these opportunities are possible.
“Joel’s speed and silky skills at either end of the ground is magic to watch and I’m really looking forward to watching him play this weekend.
“The contribution the Jeffrey family has made to Territory footy and to the broader football community is immense and continues to sweeten with Joel’s debut.”
Joel’s father, NT footy legend Russell Jeffrey played 42 games for St Kilda and 8 games with the Brisbane Bears before his AFL career ended in 1992.
Joel’s sister, Lateesha Jeffrey was this year’s NAB AFLW Premiership Cup Ambassador, captain of TIO NTFL’s Southern Districts Football Club and former NT Thunder captain.
At only 16-years-old Jeffrey made his TIO NTFL Men’s Premier League debut for Wanderers Football Club in Round 1. In Round 4 that same season, Jeffrey was nominated for the Rising Star Award after his impressive skills across all areas of the ground. In the same season Jeffrey was a member of the Wanderers Under 18 Premiers.
In addition to his impressive TIO NTFL career, Jeffrey represented the Cazalys NT Thunder Academy in the National Under 16 championships in 2018, was selected into the Allies squad, debuted for the NT Thunder in the NEAFL, was a member of the NAB League Cazalys NT Thunder squad in 2019 and was drafted to the Gold Coast Suns last season.
SUNS Senior Coach Stuart Dew said this is a great moment for Joel and for the Gold Coast SUNS club.
“He obviously had an outstanding game on the weekend, and he’s had multiple shots at goal for a number of weeks now, but just the way he’s been playing has impressed us and he’s put in a fantastic body of work.
“All of us have loved how he’s attacked coming into the full-time environment. It’s not easy to move away from family but from Day 1 he’s really put his head down and done the work.
“He’s always in here working on his craft whether it’s marking, goal kicking or game knowledge, he’s very, very coachable.
“He’s formidable when he’s on the lead and he’s tough to match up on because he’s quite good on the ground as well.
“There’s a pathway – we want to continue to foster that relationship. The lads up there want to be role models for their mates back home,” Dew added.
Totham said the ability to continue to provide the pathway from the Cazaly’s NT Thunder Academy through the SUNS program is exciting.
“For Joel to become another Territorian to pull on the SUNS AFL Guernsey is just fantastic,” Totham said.
“Our established partnership with the SUNS is continuing to grow and we are looking forward to seeing many more Territory footy players following in Joel and Mally’s footsteps.”
Jeffrey will also become the second Northern Territory product to debut for the SUNS in 2021, following Malcolm Rosas Jnr.
Jeffrey will run out onto the field at Metricon Stadium for his debut on Saturday afternoon against the Melbourne Demons, centre bounce 2:40pm ACST.