The all-conquering Northern Bombers demonstrated AFL quality in claiming their third TSL flag in four years.
This was the view of former coach Zane Littlejohn who has since become a development coach at Brisbane Lions and loved every second of returning to watch his old team destroy Lauderdale by 87 points in Saturday’s grand final.
Littlejohn was full of praise for his replacement Tom Couch and both the club’s leaders and emerging youngsters.
Making a token effort at impartiality with a red and black scarf that could have supported either team, the man who led North to the last three grand finals was in awe of some of Couch’s tactics.
“Their offensive transition ball movement is phenomenal and would compete against most NEAFL teams I saw this year, including AFL NEAFL teams – it’s that good,” he said.
“Skillwise they made some mistakes but as a coach at any level you can cop a skill error; it’s when they make wrong decisions [that you can’t] and I thought North just made really good decisions and Tom should be super proud and take the credit for that.”
While there has been no shortage of hype around young Tarryn Thomas, Littlejohn said the midfielder was far from alone in having AFL aspirations.
“Tarryn has played in two grand finals now and there’s a lot of talk that he will probably go and rightly so, he should.
“But Rhyan Mansell’s got a bit of something about him and just a willingness to compete. He’s still only 17 and already played in a premiership.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen young [Ben] Simpson and he seems pretty clever, thinks through the game and makes good decisions.
“If they’re the future of our club, we’re in good hands moving forward. There’s some good talent out there and hopefully we see some more players drafted from the TSL in the near future.
“For guys who train three nights a week, work full-time, some are students, for them to play the way they did was fantastic and a really good effort. To see that was great.”
- “Huge potential”: Page 34