North Melbourne star forward Lindsay Thomas has responded to his omission from the AFL side, telling NITV’s Marngrook Footy Show that he’ll earn his way back through the VFL.
Making his Marngrook debut on Thursday night, Thomas said as one of the leaders at the Kangaroos, it’s important to set an example for his peers.
“Obviously I’m disappointed that I don’t get to play on Saturday with the boys,” Thomas said.
“But in saying that, I’m a senior player, I know what I have to do to get back in the seniors.
“Along with Andrew (Swallow), we’ll both go back to Werribee (VFL side) on Saturday. We’ll play for Werribee, we’ll represent North Melbourne still. But I know as a player what I have to do and there’s no point me, being a senior player, moping around.
“Because we’ve got such a young group, those young players do feed off senior players like myself and Andrew.
“So we’ll support the boys as well, but in saying that, we’ll go back down on Saturday and hopefully it’s just the one-week stint.”
The 29-year-old has played 201 AFL games, having brought up the milestone 200th in the nail-biting loss against Western Bulldogs on Easter Friday.
Former St Kilda and Brisbane AFL player and co-host of The Marngrook Footy Show, Gilbert McAdam, paid tribute to Thomas’s perseverance in overcoming adversity and leaving his community to succeed in the AFL.
“Two hundred games, I’ll tell you what, you’ve done a great effort to play 200 games because a lot of Indigenous players have come over and we get homesick and we go back home,” McAdam said.
“You stuck it out. I know you’ve had it hard at times but you’ve stuck it all out. When I saw you play that 200 - it made me really proud of you brother so well done,” he added.
Thomas’s journey towards AFL football started early and he reflected upon that progression on Marngrook on Thursday night.
“I grew up in Port Lincoln, born and bred. I had a very good upbringing, I had great family support and good people around me,” he said.
“I made the hard choice to move to Adelaide as a 14, 15-year-old, to follow my footy dream and I stayed in Adelaide for a couple of years and I was coached by some really famous Port Adelaide royalty footballers down there.
“Fortunately I got picked up by North Melbourne - I still remember like it was yesterday when they rang me up and they told me. It was a Saturday and I had to be on a plane on the Monday and I had just a backpack and I went over.
“I didn’t really know what to expect and I told my girlfriend, now my wife, at the time, that I’d last for two years.
"But I’ve had good people at the footy club that’s helped me along the way and great family support, obviously from my side but also from my wife’s side as well."
“But I’ve had good people at the footy club that’s helped me along the way and great family support, obviously from my side but also from my wife’s side as well.
“It’s been a tough journey but I’ve definitely had good people around me to support me.”
Thomas starred for Port Adelaide at junior level in the SANFL and won the 2005 McCallum Medal, awarded to the best and fairest in the under 17’s.
He said the leadership and influence fellow Aboriginal footballers had on him there, as well as for his junior club Mallee Park, were a big part in him being drafted to North Melbourne in 2006, from the team he supported.
“I did follow Port Power. I was fortunate enough that I’m related to Shaun and Peter (Burgoyne) and obviously Graham (Johncock) and Byron Pickett and played alongside with Eddie as well. We’ve had great footballers come from Mallee Park footy club, and couldn’t go past Shaun and Peter.”
Watch last Thursday's episode here: